Downballot Derby: Senate Candidate Under Fire For Playboy Article

There's a new controversy surrounding Al Franken in Minnesota, the front-runner for the Democratic Senate nomination to take on Republican Sen. Norm Coleman in the fall. The comedian and Saturday Night Live alumnus is taking heat for an article entitled "Porn-O-Rama!" that he wrote in Playboy magazine eight years ago.

Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum, who supported Franken's rival until he dropped out of the race, said in an interview with the Associated Press that she was shocked by the article and that she was worried about other Democrats on the ballot with a candidate "who has pornographic writings that are indefensible."

"As a parent and an aunt, and talking to other parents, people are very concerned about the type of Internet use that's out there, and how it has a potentially harmful effect on children," McCollum said. "Sexually explicit material is one of the things that parents are very concerned about, and want to make sure that they're steering their children away from."

Democratic Reps. Keith Ellison and Tim Walz also expressed concerns about the article, but none of them so far have called on Franken to step aside.

At the state GOP convention on Friday, Coleman also took a swipe at Franken. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Coleman said that "eight years ago I was making the streets of St. Paul safer and he was writing porn."

Franken's spokesman responded to the uproar: "Al understands, and the people of Minnesota understand, the difference between what a satirist does and what a senator does."

Idaho Senate: Voters in Idaho on Tuesday picked nominees to battle for the seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Larry Craig -- famous for an incident in a airport bathroom last summer that led to him announcing his resignation (and then withdrawing that resignation a few weeks later before it took affect). On the Republican side, Lt. Gov. Jim Risch defeated several lesser known challengers with 65 percent of the vote. He will face off against former Democratic Rep. Larry LaRocco, who won with 72 of the vote. Risch has defeated LaRocco twice before, including the 2006 election for lieutenant governor. He is favored again this time in the rematch.

Colorado Senate: Former congressman Bob Schaffer accepted the Republican nomination for Senate at the state party convention on Saturday. He will face off against Democratic Rep. Mark Udall, who was nominated at his state party convention a few weeks ago, for the right to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Wayne Allard.

New Jersey Senate: Looking ahead, the most important downballot battle to watch this week is the Democratic Senate primary on Tuesday in New Jersey. Rep. Rob Andrews has been waging a fight against 84-year-old incumbent Sen. Frank Lautenberg, in a campaign that has mainly focused on the senator's age. The challengers have squared off in two debates in the last week, along with lesser known candidate Morristown Mayor Donald Cresitello.

On the Republican side, three men are seeking the nomination: State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio, professor Murray Sabrin and former congressman Dick Zimmer.