Tales from the Trail

Coleman, senator in limbo, visits old stomping ground

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.

Coleman finds temporary gig as fight for Senate seat goes on

USA-POLITICS/FRANKENWASHINGTON – Norm Coleman has found a temporary gig while his court battle to hang on to his U.S. Senate seat representing Minnesota begins — the Republican Jewish Coalition.

After recounting the votes, Minnesota officials declared Coleman’s opponent, comedian and Democrat Al Franken, the winner in the race. But the Republican has complained that the recount was conducted unfairly and promised a court challenge that could take weeks to resolve. 

In the meantime, Coleman has found himself a part-time gig, paid of course, to be a consultant and strategic adviser to the Republican organization. However, he will not engage in any lobbying.

The First Draft: Friday, Nov. 5

Detroit CEOs drive their hybrid cars over to the House of Representatives for another serving of humble pie this morning. But it’s still not clear if they’ll get the $34 billion bailout they’re looking for, as several senators remained skeptical after yesterday’s testimony on that side of the Capitol. 
     
Testimony before the House Financial Services Committee begins at 9:30 a.m. 

     
The last outstanding Senate race may finally reach a resolution today, as Minnesota could complete its recount in the contest between incumbent Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken. 

But any resolution will be preliminary: there are still about 6,000 ballots that have been challenged and will need further review.

The First Draft: Wednesday, Nov. 19

Please sir, can I have some more? CEOs of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler make their case for a $25 billion bailout to the House of Representatives, one day after enduring a skeptical reception in the Senate. A vote could come as early as today, but Senate backers say they might not have the support they need.
 
Testimony to the House Financial Services Committee gets underway at 10 a.m.
    
In Chicago, President-elect Barack Obama continues to assemble his administration. Eric Holder, a former Justice Department official under President Bill Clinton, emerged yesterday as a possible pick for attorney general, while the Wall Street Journal reports that Clinton himself offered to submit his future charitable and business activities for ethics review if wife Hillary is tapped for Secretary of State.

Formal announcements could come on Friday, a source tells Reuters.   
   
In the Senate, Democrats have edged closer to a critical 60-seat majority after Anchorage, Alaska mayor Mark Begich declared victory over incumbent Republican Ted Stevens, a convicted felon. That gives Democrats control of at least 58 seats, with races in Georgia and Minnesota still hanging in the balance.
 
A recount in the Minnesota race between incumbent Republican Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken, a former comedian, begins today. Franken himself si making the rounds in Washington to raise money and huddle with his fellow Democrats.

For a change, the stock market is not expected to get off to a dismal start today. Hewlett-Packard’s reassuring quarterly results and profit outlook are expected to offset worries about the deeping global economic slump.
   
And finally, Happy World Toilet Day! The advocacy group Water Advocates says 2.5 billion people don’t have access to a toilet, leading to millions of preventable deaths each year from exposure to human waste. The group holds an event in front of the Capitol at 12:30 p.m. to draw attention to the problem.

Senate candidate Al Franken’s tax goof bites

CHICAGO – Comedian, author and former radio talk show host Al Franken, the likely Democratic Senate candidate for Minnesota, is paying $70,000 in back taxes and penalties to 17 states to make up for what he says were mistakes by his accountant.

State Republicans say Franken, who was expected to pose rtr1n2zo.jpga strong challenge to incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman in the November election, is at fault. 

“Al Franken’s business activities must have a full, and complete public airing if he is to retain any credibility as a candidate for public office,” Ron Carey, chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota, said in a statement.