Thanking the people of Minnesota for giving him a second term, U.S. Sen. Al Franken claimed victory Tuesday night in what turned out to be a surprisingly comfortable re-election win over Republican challenger Mike McFadden.
It was so comfortable, in fact, that Franken was projected as the winner by many major media outlets just moments after the polls closed at 8 p.m.
"I couldn't be more proud to be your senator," Franken said. "We have a lot to do and I'm excited to get back to work tomorrow."
For Franken, it's a far cry from his first election victory six years ago, when he defeated incumbent Republican Norm Coleman by just 312 votes after a lengthy recount.
Franken was leading in the vote count by a 54 percent - 42 percent margin with about 70 percent of the precincts counted.
Republican Mike McFadden conceded the race about 10:30 p.m., telling the crowd at the Minnesota Republican Party gathering that he is proud of his campaign team and that they should "hold their heads high."
McFadden, a successful businessman who was unknown in politics prior to this election, focused on jobs, education, reducing the national debt and finding a different solution for affordable health care throughout his campaign. He also made it a point to visit all of Minnesota's counties.
Because of Franken's narrow victory in 2008, many political analysts predicted the Franken-McFadden race would come down to the wire. But Franken led McFadden by double digits in nearly every poll for the majority of the election. Although the gap narrowed towards Election Day, Franken still led McFadden 51 percent to 40 percent, according to the KSTP/Survey USA released Nov. 2.
While Minnesotans will continue to have two Democrats serving them in the Senate, their influence will be diminished since the Republican Party won enough seats to become the majority party in the Senate as well as the House.