Herald editorial board

The next new name to take the political stage in Minnesota may be a familiar one: Al Franken.

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During a conversation last week with WCCO, the former U.S. senator hinted he may not be done with politics. When asked whether he had plans to run again for office, Franken said he has neither "ruled it out" nor "ruled it in."

This is a development that could roil the waters of not just Minnesota politics but also the MeToo movement nationwide. Franken resigned from Congress in January after it was reported he'd allegedly groped women's backsides and forcibly kissed a woman. A photo of Franken, widely grinning while pretending to grab a sleeping woman's breasts, was especially damning.

Franken claimed he'd not done anything to bring dishonor to the Senate and that he was confident that he could be cleared by an ethics committee. But as pressure mounted even within his own party, he resigned and said "this decision is not about me. It's about the people of Minnesota."

We felt then and now that it was the right thing to do.

However, if Franken is so inclined, he should run again for office. While MeToo controversies have proven lethal to careers in business and Hollywood, that isn't necessarily the case in politics. For example, President Trump notably overcame a MeToo-like controversy on his way to the White House.

How?

Because in politics, it comes down to voters, not political correctness or social-media's mob mentality. If voters deem an offense, shall we say, forgivable, then the offending candidate wins. It's as simple as that.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, also a Democrat, last week hinted that Franken may not be done with public life. At a TimesTalk panel, sponsored by the New York Times, she said Franken has "had two acts and he's still going to have a third."

She has emphasized the need for due process during the MeToo movement and said that since misconduct varies, consequences should too.

If Franken is inclined to climb back upon the political stage, he should run. It's also important to keep in context the allegations against him. The aforementioned photo, for example, was taken two years before he became a senator and while he still was earning a living in the comedy industry. Should that make a difference? Well, as mentioned, that's up to the voters.

And again, it seems politics is the only place where MeToo offenders can keep or regain their place of prominence.

Politics aside, would we vote for Franken in some future, hypothetical, congressional election?

Probably not. He made a reputation as a "champion of women" - those are his words - but evidence and multiple accusations make us question that claim.