Whoever runs in Minnesota stays in Minnesota?

March 26, 2009

Nearly five months after the 2008 election, there’s no sign that either Norm Coleman or Al Franken will definitively be declared the winner in the race for one of Minnesota’s U.S. Senate seats, allowing him to spend the next six years in Washington.

USA/Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told Reuters in an interview that it could be many months before all legal challenges are exhausted. “I don’t think we’re going to see the end to this matter any time soon,” McConnell said.

For those who have forgotten about this cliff-hanger: Coleman, the Democrat-turned-Republican first-term senator running for reelection, lagged behind Democratic comedian-author-Franken by only 225 votes after a recount of nearly 2.4 million ballots cast for the two.

Legal challenges followed and the two candidates are awaiting a ruling any day now by a three-judge panel in Minnesota.

But McConnell said that won’t be the end of it. He said Coleman is likely to employ a Bush v. Gore argument and try to convince the courts that there needs to be a uniform standard of counting ballots throughout the state.

It “will be litigated out not only in state court but potentially in federal court as well,” McConnell predicted.

Asked whether he was concerned that Minnesota is going so long without a full team in the U.S. Senate, McConnell replied, “Yeah, it’s a shame.”

In the meantime, Democrats are two votes short of a filibuster proof majority in the U.S. Senate that’s needed to advance most major legislation, instead of the one vote short they would be if Franken was declared the winner based on his narrow margin.

Senator Dick Durbin, the number-two Democrat in the Senate, is getting impatient.

“There reaches a point where Minnesota is entitled to two senators and if it keeps coming up Al Franken the winner, Al Franken the winner,  I think it’s time for the national Republican Party to move on.” Asked whether he and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid might just try to seat Franken at some point soon, Durbin replied,  “I’m not ready to say that.”

Click here for more Reuters political coverage.

– Photo credit: Reuters/Mitch Dumke (Franken and Reid meeting in January.)


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It’s all out war all over again. The GOP will not give up this seat for ANY reason whatsoever, and I suspect that Pawlenty will keep sticking a needle in the eye of the Democrats. When he runs for President, it’ll only make him more popular with the GOP base, although he runs a huge risk of losing the moderates. Political warfare sure is bloody, eh? Seems that the Minnesota electorate is content to sit back and watch instead of demanding anything. Stupid Minnesotans.

Posted by Marvin8 | Report as abusive

Too bad they couldn’t both be put in the ring with Jesse Ventura

and the first one
to bring him to his knees

with uncontrollable laughter
be acclaimed a winner

as there’s a dearth of humour
in politics.

Posted by Harmon | Report as abusive

the choice of franken could not be more appropriate,the team he will joining, although unintentional, are the biggest bunch of comedians ever assembled,not that i think it,s funny it is a tragedy.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Unfortunately, the report is a bit biased – it fails to mention that Coleman was leading after the election night count by close to the same margin. Before it started we in MN knew that a recount would turn the table and appoint the comedian the winner. Our Democrat political machine rivals Chicago’s – after all we are only 500 miles away.

Posted by James in MN | Report as abusive

It’s time to bring out the sleaze cannon and point it at Pawlenty. Let’s start digging and let’t get the mud bucket out. Times up. Waht’s Larry Flint got on him?

Posted by Broward County Fl | Report as abusive

Coleman should learn to take a loss like a man. This comes from a republican. His stalling makes him and the republican party look like a bunch of babies, just like Al Gore and the democrats in 2000.

Posted by Bob | Report as abusive

Democrats have a way of magically defying the odds and conjuring up just enough missing ballots to put them over the top in any recount. Coleman should’ve saved the taxpayers a lot of money and conceded back when he was ahead.

Posted by Larry | Report as abusive

I’m not a lawyer but Colmans plan to use the Bush V Gore argument seems off base. For that plan to work he would need to get the supreme court to stop the counting. That cow is out of the barn. The counting is done, too late to stop that. His argument seems to have alot of hairpin curves and steep drop-offs. Frankins Argument looks stright Wide and flat, an easy road.

Posted by Broward County Fl | Report as abusive

The race for governor in Washington state is a case in point in your comments Larry.

Dino Rossi won on election night against Christine Gregoire. Since it was within 1 percent, it triggered an automatic recount. After the recount Rossi was still the winner, but with a slightly smaller margin. So, a second recount resulted because those are the rules in Washington state. Rossi won the second recount, but with an even smaller margin. But here is the kicker, by the rules in Washington state, if the party (democrat or republican) that is losing comes up with the money (in this case it was something like 250 to 300,000 dollars), then a final recount can occur. Well, low and behold, the democrat Gregoire won by about a hundred or so votes. There was nothing Rossi could do about it, so after many recounts, he finally lost the race to the democrat. It was and still is a travesty.

Seattle is a very liberal city in Washington and even though Rossi won 32 of the 36 (I am close…)counties, Seattle still controlled the outcome and their numbers kept changing, ballots in the unlikeliest places…Same as in the Coleman/Franken race.

When it all started the chairman of the state Democrat party said, “we are going to recount the race until we get it right!” Well, the democrats do indeed have a way of pulling an election out even though they lost.

So, I am all for Coleman fighting for this because it stinks. I have seen it all before and it stinks. Franken the democrats did not win this election.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

What amazes me is the idea that Minnesota is ruled by the Democrats – the vote is so close, it’s clear that things aren’t as cut and dried as people say.

Larry says: “Democrats have a way of magically defying the odds and conjuring up just enough missing ballots to put them over the top in any recount”

Ok, but the GOP has a good ability in taking things all the way to SCOTUS and getting their way then – in special rulings that are meant to be for just that situation and never again.

I think Bob is right: “Coleman should learn to take a loss like a man. This comes from a republican. His stalling makes him and the republican party look like a bunch of babies, just like Al Gore and the democrats in 2000.”

Posted by Stefan | Report as abusive

Al Franken is a disgrace. Coleman and the GOP should never give up until they have defeated the corrupt and mentally ill Democrat party.

Posted by John Galt | Report as abusive

Yeah it’s goping on too long and Franken will probably pull it out in the end. As a Minnesota guy, I voted for him but knew that he was a pitiably weak candidate. Norm was rated as the single most vulnerable Repub Senate seat until Franken was put out there by the MN DFL worthies, those who have given us a long list [a long LONG list] of weak senatorial candidates. What was Al’s qualification? That he went to high school in Minnesota? How ridiculous was that?

Posted by tom b | Report as abusive

Harry Reid should seat Al Franken immediately. When the Repubicans had 50+ vote and not 60+, they used to threaten to remove the fillibuster.
Harry Reid should do the same. Harry, please grow a pair, seat Al Franken and save this country by passing Obama’s programs.

Posted by skeptic94514 | Report as abusive

Reid has no right to seat a senator from a state while the legal system is in force. It is not a forgone conclusion Franken won. I have seen this bs before with the governors race in Washington state.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

Traditionally, candidates who lost and cried foul had a rather short window to prove their case before the media lost patience and started calling the candidate out as petulant and self-involved. Just ask Al Gore, who was hounded in the press by the specter of the “sore loser” label practically from the moment he withdrew his concession in the early morning hours following Election Day. I doubt a day went by during the Florida recount when there wasn’t a “sore loser” reference to Gore in the press. In Nexis, I found nearly 900 “sore loser” press mentions in Gore articles between November and December 2000.

For some reason, Coleman has been able to avoid the dreaded “sore loser” label, one that can be a career-killer for any politician. Instead, the corporate media has given Coleman and his Republican supporters an open canvas on which to operate. A Nexis search finds just a handful of “sore loser” media mentions regarding Coleman since November. As Coleman and his attorneys look over their recount legal options, they in no way have to be concerned about or factor into play the potential “sore loser” meme that could do real damage to his effort. They can play hardball with impunity because they’re getting a free pass from the press.

The strange part is that Coleman’s getting that press pass even though some members of the Republican Party have been brazenly open in discussing the Minnesota case in terms of a blatant stall campaign specifically designed to thwart Democrats from securing a 59th seat in the U.S. Senate.

“The battle in Washington is real. Every day in the Senate without Al Franken is a great day,” Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) recently told a Tulsa audience. Republicans back the idea of Coleman appealing his case indefinitely because a long fight is worth it to them if it keeps Franken from becoming the 59th Senate Democrat, which would give President Barack Obama an advantage over the next two years. Even when Republicans cast the litigation marathon as a way to simply freeze out Franken, the corporate media and its army of commentators remain silent, reluctant to cast aspersions on Coleman’s rope-a-dope campaign.

Posted by Eric Boehlert | Report as abusive

The reason no one says anything about Coleman being a “sore loser” is because he hasn’t lost this election.

Just recount all the votes again, as they did multiple times in Washington state in the 2004 governors race. Both Franken and Coleman should be equally open to this, so this race can come to a democratic end. After all, it is the right thing to do.

Eric. In your post you were trying to divert this issue. Stay on task.

Let the full recount begin.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive