Franken raises nearly $2 million as campaign season kicks off

WASHINGTON – Al Franken’s re-election campaign announced that the Democratic Senator brought in just a hair less than $2 million in the first three months of 2013 as the 2014 Senate election cycle begin in earnest.

In an unusual move, Franken’s campaign made the fundraising announcement in a video, embedded below, that’s being sent out to supporters.

Franken raised a significant sum from online donors who give in small amounts. The video says over the past three months a quarter of the campaign’s draw was donated online. Among the strategies the campaign used to lure online donors was a giveaway for one donor to attend a fundraiser at late night comedian Conan O’Brien’s house in Los Angeles.

The campaign noted that it had 19,000 new donors this quarter who accounted for 54 percent of the total donors.

The campaign has slightly more than $2 million in the bank even as no Republican has officially announced a run for the seat. On Wednesday, Twin Cities businessman Mike McFadden told MPR News he was considering challenging Franken as a Republican.

Candidates have until April 15 to file their fundraising numbers with the Federal Election Commission. So far, Franken’s total puts him toward the front of the Senate fundraising pack. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats, announced raising $1.9 million while Republican John Cornyn of Texas brought in $1.85 million as he attempts to intimidate potential primary challengers.

Franken, a former comedian, won election in 2008 by the narrowest of margins and for much of his term has been considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents by political observers in Washington and Minnesota. But with the absence of a high-profile challenger and open Democratic seats in Republican-friendly territory, Franken’s been considered less vulnerable in the past few months.