ST. PAUL, Minn. — Comedian Al Franken grabbed the Democratic nomination Tuesday for U.S. Senate in Minnesota, setting up a showdown with Republican Sen. Norm Coleman.
Franken, who gained fame as a Saturday Night Live cast member, easily beat six other candidates chasing the Democratic nod. Coleman trounced his only opponent, an expatriate living in Italy.
Also factoring into the Senate race, Dean Barkley won a spot on the ballot for the Independence Party, which is a major party in Minnesota.
Another TV celebrity, Kevin Powell, a former cast member on MTV's Real World, lost his bid for Congress in New York to longtime Rep. Edolphus Towns.
Some other key states primary contests include:
New Hampshire: Republican Sen. John Sununu and former Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen easily won their primaries for the Senate race. Democratic Gov. John Lynch won easily to seek a third two-year term.
Vermont: Rep. Peter Welch, the state's only House member, won the Democratic primary. Welch will face Progressive and Liberty Union candidates in November.
Wisconsin: Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, the state's only incumbent U.S. House member to face a primary challenge, easily secured his nomination.
Rhode Island: Democrat Sen. Jack Reed beat a longshot challenger to seek a third term.