LAS VEGAS—Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) says he wishes that Al Franken, the embattled ex-senator, would take another run for public office, but suspects he won’t do so.
“I wish he would,” Reid told The Daily Beast in an interview earlier this month. “But I don't think he will. He just feels hurt. And he was a good senator.”
Reid has made no secret of his belief that Franken was pushed out of his Senate seat unfairly amid multiple allegations inappropriate behavior toward women and more general sexual impropriety. “He got a bad deal,” Reid said, speaking from his office at the UNLV Law School. Reid and Franken served together from 2011 through Reid’s retirement in 2016.
Other Democratic officials have echoed Reid’s position, with several current and former senators expressing regret at the circumstances of Franken’s departure in a recent New Yorker article, which raised questions about the motivations of Franken’s accusers.
But few, if any, have been explicit in stating that they would like Franken to run for office again—perhaps because his case remains highly divisive within the Democratic Party. Some of the lawmakers who urged him to resign have stood by their calls, arguing that the weight and sheer number of accusations made his continued service untenable. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), the first senator to call for Franken’s resignation, said recently that she had no regrets about doing so.
Franken, who told the New Yorker that he also regrets not sticking in the Senate until his case was heard by the ethics committee there, did not return several requests for comment. But people close to the former senator doubt that he will run for office again. While he has not explicitly ruled it out, Franken, 68, is largely expected to slowly reintroduce himself to public life as a political media figure—a role that he occupied as a liberal radio host and commentator after his career in comedy and prior to his run for the Senate. Confidants say his plan has been to focus on projects like his podcast, "The Al Franken Podcast," where he talks politics and showbiz with pals like Sarah Silverman and Jeffrey Toobin.