Republican incumbent: Norm Coleman
Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate: Al Franken
Coleman, 59, has been in the U.S. Senate since 2003. He was mayor of St. Paul from 1994 to 2002, an office to which he had been elected on the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party ticket. He switched to the Republican Party in 1996. Coleman was the unsuccessful Republican nominee for governor in 1998.
Franken, 57, has never previously run for public office. He has primarily worked as a comedy writer and performer.
Most of the polls cited by Real Clear Politics show small to medium-sized leads for Coleman.
Coleman's main source of vulnerability is his identification with the unpopular Bush Administration in a state that voted against Bush both times.
On the other hand, Franken seems to have been harmed by certain revelations about his show-business career. A corporation that he set up to handle his income from those activities, failed to pay the proper amount of tax to certain states. Additionally, it was later revealed that he had written a satirical article for Playboy magazine in the form of a pornographic story.
Both candidates are natives of New York City. Franken lived in Minnesota for much of his childhood, but he spent little time there after he left to attend Harvard. Coleman, on the other hand, did not move to Minnesota until after law school, but has been a Minnesota resident ever since.
Dean Barkley, who was appointed to this Senate seat by then-Gov. Jesse Ventura, after Sen. Paul Wellstone's 2002 death, is running as the Independence Party candidate, but appears to be a minor factor in the race.
Those who would stereotype my native state of Minnesota as being totally populated by Scandinavian Lutherans and German Catholics might find it interesting that, apart from Barkley's two months in the Senate, this seat has continuously been held by Jewish men since 1978. This year's election is the third during that period in which Jewish candidates have been nominated by both major parties.
Minnesota's other senator, Amy Klobuchar, is a Democrat (DFL). But neither party has dominated Senate elections during the last two decades. Coleman appears to have an edge, but it's still a horse race.
UPDATE: I will remind readers of my policy about comments, as posted here. I have removed a comment that violated that policy. I welcome opinions about what I've written about the various Senate races, including those that disagree with me, as long as they stay within the rules.