Al Franken

ST. PAUL, Minn. — After millions of dollars and 19 months pursuing a U.S. Senate seat, comedian Al Franken sought Tuesday to nail down the Democratic nomination in his childhood home of Minnesota.

The former "Saturday Night Live" cast member, author and radio show host came in as the clear favorite in a seven-way primary to determine Republican Sen. Norm Coleman's fall challenger. Coleman easily defeated his primary opponent — an expatriate living in Italy.

Minnesota voters joined those in six other states and the District of Columbia in deciding general election matchups. Nominations for House, Senate and governor are on the line, along with the fate of another TV celebrity: Kevin Powell, a former cast member on MTV's "Real World," who is running for Congress in New York.

Franken's celebrity has both helped and hurt him. His coast-to-coast recognition enabled him to amass an impressive bankroll for a first-time candidate, but archives full of racy material provided ammunition to Republicans and his most visible Democratic rival, attorney Priscilla Lord Faris.

Lord Faris, part of a well-regarded family in state Democratic politics, criticized Franken for "angry and offensive public behavior" and said he'd be too easy a target for Coleman and his allies.