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What, him worry? Franken optimistic about re-election chances

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Considering that he squeaked into the U.S. Senate, that some deem him a polarizing figure and that he has not yet a full term under his belt, you would think Republicans would be out for Al Franken's blood.

Not so, says the Associated Press.

Four years into his term, Franken barely figures into the GOP's calculations for trying to wrest control of the Senate from Democrats, according to the AP, in a story carried by Minnesota Public Radio. Republicans don't consider him a top target for defeat, and they haven't found a strong challenger in the Democratic-leaning state.

When Franken took office, the AP reports, he vowed focus and discipline. In that, the AP says he has "largely stuck to that vow, avoiding the national spotlight. He rarely talks to the Washington press corps, has shed his comedic persona and focused on policy, working to be taken seriously."

But Franken speaks to the AP, which says he views re-election optimistically. "People have seen that I did what I said I would do. I came to Washington, I put my shoulder to the wheel and I did the work," Franken says.

Minnesota GOP Chairman Keith Downey acknowledged that, because of the tight 2008 margin, Republicans initially assumed Franken would be easy to beat in 2014. "People in politics always make too many assumptions about the future, but that was certainly the perspective," he tells AP.

The AP says a big part of the problem for the GOP is that high-profile Republicans don't want to run, citing Norm Coleman (who lost re-election to Franken), Tim Pawlenty, Erik Paulsen, John Kline and Michele Bachmann.

So far, Franken has two definite Republican challengers: Mike McFadden, a businessman and political unknown; and Jim Abeler, an eight-term state representative who's never run for higher office. Another lawmaker, state Sen. Julianne Ortman, is also considering a bid, sayeth the AP.

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