Whoever runs in Minnesota stays in Minnesota?
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.
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.”
– Photo credit: Reuters/Mitch Dumke (Franken and Reid meeting in January.)