- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 1, 2009

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Sen.-elect Al Franken turned a rally at Minnesota’s Capitol on Wednesday into an extended thank-you to supporters, promising not to “waste this chance” in what amounted to a victory speech nearly eight months late.

With a crowd of several hundred cheering his words, Mr. Franken said he had drawn strength from their efforts when his spirits flagged during the long recount and subsequent legal fight.

“When you win an election by this close a margin, you know not one bit of effort went to waste,” the Democrat said, a day after the Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed his victory and Republican Norm Coleman conceded.

Many in the crowd wore pro-Franken or pro-union shirts. “I’m one of 312,” read one sign, a nod to Mr. Franken’s winning vote margin.

RELATED STORY: Franken declared Minnesota Senate victor

His speech had the feel of one ordinarily given on election night, as he pledged to fight for childhood education and renewable energy, among other issues.

Mr. Franken said many supporters had asked him how he was doing during the long fight, worried how he was holding up. Just fine, he told them.

“Franni and I know we’re lucky,” Mr. Franken said, referring to his wife. “We’re just lucky. What we’ve been through is nothing” compared with how hard the recession has hit many ordinary families.

“I’m not going to waste this chance,” Mr. Franken said, his voice cracking with emotion.

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