RUNNING. Al Franken, 55, liberal political satirist; for the U.S. Senate; in a move that generated an immediate hum around a rather uneventful Minnesota Senate race. Franken, who hopes to oust Republican incumbent Norm Coleman in 2008, made the announcement on the final day of his Air America radio show, saying he plans to prove to voters that "he takes [the] issues seriously."
INDICTED. Childhood pals Brent Wilkes, 52, a defense contractor, and Kyle (Dusty) Foggo, 52, former executive director of the CIA; on fraud and other charges surrounding a contract for bottled water for CIA officers in Iraq; in connection with the corruption probe that sent ex-Congressman Randy Cunningham to prison last year; in San Diego. Wilkes was separately charged with conspiring to bribe Cunningham to win deals.
DIED. Anna Nicole Smith, 39, former Playboy model, widow of an octogenarian tycoon, mother of a newborn, and tabloid celebrity; of unknown causes, after collapsing in her hotel room in Hollywood, Fla. (see page 68).
DIED. Charles Norwood, 65, crusty, tobacco-chewing dentist and seven-term Republican Congressman from Georgia who arrived in Washington as part of the '94 G.O.P. revolution; of cancer; in Augusta, Ga. A conservative's conservative--Norwood vehemently opposed gun control and immigration--he nevertheless spent much of his career advocating for patients' rights and fighting health-insurance companies for comprehensive coverage.
DIED. Angelo (Sonny) Mercurio, 70, mobster turned informant who provided unprecedented access to federal agents in a landmark case; in December; of a pulmonary embolism. He had been living under the witness protection program in Little Rock, Ark. The self-described "stool pigeon" tipped off agents to a top-secret 1989 induction ceremony in Medford, Mass., attended by 17 reputed mobsters. The result, the first ever recording of such a rite, toppled a powerful New England crime family.
DIED. Ian Richardson, 72, veteran Scottish actor whose rich portrayals of Shakespearean schemers set the tone for his most famous role, the immoral British Parliament member Francis Urquhart on British TV's satirical cult hit House of Cards; of unknown causes; in London. As an oily politician, he created a catchphrase used for reporters and others--and jokingly cited by real-life leaders worldwide. "You may very well say that," he would answer an inquisitor before quickly adding, "I couldn't possibly comment."
DIED. Harriett Woods, 79, Missouri politician whose relentless campaigning and razor-thin loss in a 1982 bid for the U.S. Senate, despite being overwhelmingly outspent, inspired the creation of the grass-roots fund-raising group Emily's List; of leukemia; in University City, Mo. Woods won the Democratic nomination over banker Burleigh Arnold, who had the backing of party leadership. Her high-profile candidacy, which culminated in a loss to John Danforth by 26,247 votes, sparked Emily's List--short for Early Money Is Like Yeast--which in the last election cycle raised $46 million for women candidates nationwide.