Coleman, senator in limbo, visits old stomping ground

February 24, 2009

Republican Norm Coleman, who is in a court battle against comedian and Democrat Al Franken over who won the Minnesota Senate seat in November’s election, decided to visit his old stomping ground on Tuesday, dropping by the weekly Republican policy luncheon.

USA-ELECTION/A mere 25 steps or so from the Senate floor, Coleman entered the luncheon with the new head of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele and told reporters he was just popping in to catch up with his brethren.

“Everyone understands how important this race is, how important this seat is. Folks have been supportive and are still engaged,” Coleman told reporters before the lunch. ”We were ahead on election night, ahead when the recount began and I expect that when all is said and done.”

If Franken prevails, Democrats would then have a 59-41 majority in the Senate, one vote shy of the 60-vote minimum needed to overcome procedural hurdles in the chamber.

Franken, a comedian who gained prominence from his appearances on the satiric Saturday Night Live television show, was declared the winner by a 225-vote margin by Minnesota state officials in early January.

However, Coleman has challenged the outcome in court, arguing in part that some votes were counted twice.  He said his side of the case will be finished later this week and while Franken’s presentation could take a couple of weeks, Coleman said he thought it could be shorter.

Coleman declined to rule out further legal challenges if he did not win the current court case.

“I’m still confident in the end we got the most votes on election night and when all the legally cast votes are counted and any votes that are double counted are taken out we’ll be okay,” he said. “I’m not ruling in or ruling out. Let’s see what the court does and hopefully they’ll do the right thing.”

In the meantime, Coleman has been doing some consulting for the Republican Jewish Coalition.

For more Reuters political news, click here.

- Photo credit: Reuters/Eric Miller (Observers watch judges recount ballots in Minnesota back in November.)

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