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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bill Nelson, Mel Martinez welcome Al Franken

GYI0057855904 Florida Sens. Mel Martinez and Bill Nelson attended today's swearing in of Al Franken, and afterward fellow Democrat Nelson played down the hoopla over a 60-member majority.

"I think you've seen by his statements thus far that the new senator from Minnesota is going to be independently minded," Nelson said afterward. "And representing a constituency from Minnesota, I think that's where his people are. I don't think you can count on his vote ideologically one way or another. In the end, he'll end up being more middle mainstream."

While even the Republican Martinez found time to attend, many senators of both parties were not present in the Senate chamber for the 12:15 p.m. ceremony. Franken is actually the 58th Democrat, but two independents -- Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut -- caucus with the party.

(photo: Getty Images)

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[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 4:50pm]

    

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