(CNN) - Former comedian Al Franken, whose bid for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota was threatened by controversy over jokes from his past, won a crucial endorsement from the state Democratic party Saturday.
The DFL Convention endorsed Franken unanimously on the first ballot in Rochester, Saturday, after rival Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer conceded the vote to him and urged the party to unanimously back him. Nelson-Pallmeyer’s withdrawal means Franken will likely not face a major primary challenger, and will be expected to face Republican incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman in November.
The former "Saturday Night Live" writer drew criticism from political rivals in recent weeks for off-color jokes during his career, including an essay in “Playboy” Magazine a decade ago.
In his speech before the state convention, Franken told the crowd, “I’ve had some tough conversations this week. It kills me that things I said and wrote sent a message to some of my friends in this room and people in this state that they can’t count on me to be a champion for women, a champion for all Minnesotans, in this campaign and in the Senate”
He said, “I’m sorry for that. Because that’s not who I am”.
Franken apologized for the content of some of his material in the past, saying “for 35 years, I was a writer. I wrote a lot of jokes. Some of them weren’t funny. Some of them were inappropriate. Some of them were downright offensive. I understand that. And I understand that the people of Minnesota deserve a Senator who won’t say things that make them uncomfortable. But I’m in this race because there are some people in Washington who could afford to feel a little less comfortable.”