MN-Sen: Coleman Wants A Do-Over!

(Still with the "MN-Sen", really?)

So, as the Coleman campaign's quixotic attempt to overturn the will of the people in Minnesota with an endless court battle has progressed, their endgame strategy has become more and more evident: muddy up the works to such an extent that a re-vote seems like the only fair and rational solution. Up until now, that suggestion was being made by peripheral figures in the Coleman camp; now it's coming from Coleman himself.

Via TPM, here's an exchange Norm had with conservative Sirius radio host Andrew Wilkow:

"What does the court do?" Norm asked rhetorically. "Yeah, you know some folks are now talking about simply saying run it again, just run it again."

"Have another statewide election?" Wilkow asked.

Coleman responded: "You know the St. Paul Pioneer Press is...one of the second largest papers in the state, last week [they] said we're never going to figure this out, just run it again. So you start hearing that. Ultimately the court has to make a determination, can they confirm, can they certify who got the most legally cast votes?"

Coleman also said that he truly believes that he is the one who got the most legally cast votes, but on the other hand, this whole situation shows serious concerns about the process.

"I got to believe next time this happens folks are going to say ... if you have something within a couple of say percentage - this is by the way was thousandths of a percent - but if you have something within a couple of hundred votes out of three million cast, probably the best thing to do next time is run it again in three weeks and put all this other stuff aside."

Just like in Florida in 2000, you mean, when you called for a re-vote? Oh, wait, that's right, you didn't.

Josh Marshall puts this in perspective:

Throwing your hands up and saying let's just call the election a tie and do it again is the desperate last act of a losing candidate.  [...]

Norm Coleman, with the support of national Republicans...is now poised to try to pull off what would be perhaps a bigger election robbery than Bush v. Gore: toss out the nearly three million votes cast on one of the most-anticipated election days in this nation's history in favor of a much smaller special do-over election. It's breath-taking.

Update [2009-2-26 14:51:40 by Todd Beeton]:Senator Reid has a suggestion for former Senator Coleman:

"Norm Coleman should have a five-minute conversation with [Nevada Sen.] John Ensign," Reid said.

Reid explained that, in his 1998 Senate race, Ensign decided to concede defeat to Reid rather than pursue a recount.

"John Ensign wound up as a real hero in Nevada," Reid said.

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MN-Sen: Al Franken Asks To Be Certified Provisionally

Christ, who would have thought I'd still be using the 'MN-Sen' prefix in February?

Today, the Franken campaign asked the Minnesota Supreme Court to certify the election of Franken provisionally until former Senator Coleman's litigation can play out.

From TPM:

The Minnesota Supreme Court just finished hearing arguments in Al Franken's lawsuit to obtain an immediate certificate of election, and it has become clear that the court faces a very tough choice: Issue an election certificate now, which would have a theoretical chance of being undone later by pending litigation, and to do so against the commonly-understood meaning of state statutes -- or have Minnesota go without two seats in the Senate for months.

Team Franken's argument revolved around the failure of the state of Minnesota to deliver a certificate of election to the US Senate in order to fulfill Minnesota's constitutional right to representation by 2 Senators, not just 1. Franken attorney Marc Elias argued that the failure to send a second Senator to Washington was hurting Minnesota as well as the ability of the US Senate to properly deal with the huge issues currently facing it.

From The Star Tribune (via DemConWatch):

Members of Minnesota's Supreme Court questioned whether they can force the state to temporarily let Democrat Al Franken serve in the U.S. Senate while Republican Norm Coleman's challenges an election recount in court.

Franken's lawyer, Marc Elias, urged the state's highest court during arguments today in St. Paul not to leave one of the state's two Senate seats empty while "the nation faces questions of war and peace."

"I see by the newspapers that a stimulus package may be decided by one vote," Elias told the court.

Which brings us to Coleman's ultimate strategy here. He knows the chances of winning this thing are next to nil. At this point, he's just trying to obstruct President Obama's agenda, which, actually one vote in the Senate does make a difference.

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NH-Sen & MN-Sen: Bipartisanship

As Josh Orton pointed out here earlier today, Democratic Governor John Lynch has released a statement making clear that he will appoint a Republican rather than a Democrat to fill the vacancy created should Democratic President Barack Obama name Republican Senator Judd Gregg to become Commerce Secretary.

That's right.  Not only is our Democratic President willing to put another Republican in his Cabinet (making three, along with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Defense Secretary Robert Gates - I recall hearing today, but I have not confirmed, that three members of the opposing Party in the Cabinet at the same time is the most since FDR's first term!), but the Democratic Governor is willing to meet the demand of the Republican Senator that he be succeeded by a Republican, despite the fact that the President, the Governor, and the clear political trend in New Hampshire is Democratic.

Democrats are bending over backwards to embody the spirit of bipartisanship to which Republicans in the Senate only exploit and pay lip-service.  Why do I say this, and what does this have to do with MN-Sen (though you've probably guessed by now)?

Minnesota only has one seated U.S. Senator, Amy Klobuchar.  Norm Coleman's term expired last month, and Senator-elect Al Franken's seating is held up by Coleman's frivolous, foot-dragging, evidence-free lawsuit, which has featured apparently-doctored evidence by Coleman as well as notoriously dud witnesses and lies regarding cherry-picked voters.

There is state law in Minnesota that the Governor and Secretary of State cannot sign an election certificate if there is an election contest underway.  Fine.  Coleman has blocked Senator-elect Franken's election certification.  Whoopie for him.

Still, no one debates that the ultimate arbiter for the Senate race, as dictated by Section 5 of Article I of the U.S. Constitution, is the U.S. Senate (and that federal Constitutional law trumps state policy).  Further, there is precedent - very recent precedent, at that - of provisionally seating an uncertified-but-clearly-victorious Senate candidate while an election challenge was underway: Senator Mary Landrieu's first Senate victory in 1996, a provisional seating supported by Republicans (emphasis added by me):

There is, moreover, historical precedent for seating Franken on a temporary basis. In 1996, Mary Landrieu won the Louisiana Senate seat in a hotly contested race. But her opponent, State Representative Woody Jenkins, alleged that massive election fraud had contributed to his defeat. The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate agreed to look into the charges but allowed Landrieu to serve in the interim, pending investigation. The Rules Committee ultimately discovered that Jenkins had coached and paid witnesses to testify, thus discrediting his complaints of corruption and securing Landrieu's place in the Senate.

That was then.  This is now:

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl has warned Democrats not to try to seat Al Franken any time soon, and he predicts the legal process will take at least a month to unfold, meaning the Senate may be stuck with 99 members well into February.

In an unusual move, Kyl went to the Senate floor this morning to lay out all the reasons why the Minnesota Senate election remains unresolved, and he listed Sen. Norm Coleman's arguments before the Minnesota courts. Coleman's election lawsuit contends there are newly discovered ballots, missing ballots, wrongly rejected absentee ballots and double counting of votes.

An election was held.  A manual recount was undertaken.  Contested ballots were reviewed one-by-one by an independent panel.  Independent local election officials then reviewed absentee ballots to determine which were properly rejected and which should be counted.  After every possible review was conducted, Al Franken led by 225 votes and the results were certified by the independent Canvassing Board (not to be confused with an election certificate).  Al Franken won, and Norm Coleman has been unable to provide any hard evidence at all that confirms any wrongdoing in the election or any misconduct or miscounting that would move the result substantively in his favor.  Norm Coleman lost, notwithstanding Jon Kyl's parroting of Coleman's political talking points on the Senate floor.  But he is contesting.  Fine.  He is availing himself of the legal system (that his Party would seek to curtail others' access to through so-called "tort reform," but that's another story).

In desperately clinging to the myth that votes were widely double-counted, the Coleman camp repeats the concept "one man, one vote." In the U.S. Senate, every state gets two Senators, two votes.  However, in the meantime, Minnesota only has one Senator.  Because of Norm Coleman's frivolous lawsuit and the Senate GOP's lack of that bipartisan spirit that they trumpet when it serves their ends, Minnesotans have only half of the representation and half of the avenues to constituent service in the U.S. Senate that every other citizen of the other 49 U.S. states has.

The U.S. Constitution is on Al Franken's side.  Republican-supported Senate precedent is on Al Franken's side.  And bipartisanship is on Al Franken's side.  Just as our Democratic President has seen fit to name a Republican Senator to serve in his Cabinet, and New Hampshire's Democratic Governor has seen fit to honor the demand of the Republican Senator that he be succeeded by a Republican, it only seems fitting that Republican Senators ought to allow the (Constitutionally-supported and precedent-supported) provisional seating of Senator-elect Al Franken while Norm Coleman's frivolous lawsuit runs its course so that Minnesotans can enjoy full representation in the U.S. Senate once again.  It's good for Minnesota.  It's good for bipartisanship.

For daily news and updates on the U.S. Senate races around the country, regularly read Senate Guru.

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Court Denies Coleman Request For A Re-Recount

In the ex-Senator from Minnesota's latest hail Mary pass, Norm Coleman on Thursday requested that a three judge panel inspect ballots in Minnesota's 86 precincts for elusive Coleman votes. Last night that request was denied.

A three-judge panel on Friday rejected Republican Norm Coleman's request to investigate alleged vote-counting irregularities that may have contributed to his opponent's lead in Minnesota's Senate race after a recount.

"The court is not convinced that another inspection of the ballots is efficient or needed to prepare for trial," the judges wrote. The recount trial starts Monday and is expected to last weeks.

The trial challenging Franken's certified lead in the Senate recount will begin on Monday and could last weeks.

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Norm Coleman Plays Senator

Awww, ain't that cute, he thinks he's still Senator. Check out this sad little campaign video Coleman sent out (h/t Minnesota Indeopendent) in which Coleman defiantly claims impending victory.

"I fully expect, that when the election contest is completed, if it is done fairly, with no votes counted twice, and with all voters treated equally, I will win this election."

This comes as Coleman seeks an inspection of precincts throughout the state for elusive votes.

From The Star Tribune:

In a new move to expand his search for votes in the disputed U.S. Senate election, Republican Norm Coleman asked a three-judge panel Thursday to order inspectors to visit 86 precincts around the state to re-examine ballots for possible double-counting and other irregularities. [...]

Coleman lawyer Tony Trimble told the judges Thursday that the re-examination his campaign seeks would involve three inspectors -- one from each campaign and a nonpartisan -- going to precincts and taking another look at specific ballots. He said such a system would provide a "single set of eyes" to examine ballots, avoiding inconsistent standards from county to county. Unresolved disagreements over ballots would be brought to the panel for resolution at trial.

The Franken campaign opposes the move on the grounds that it comes "too late for the trial scheduled to start Monday on Coleman's challenge of the Senate recount."

As he makes clear in the video, Coleman is desperately clinging to the hope that he can eke enough votes out of rejected absentees, ballots he claims were counted twice as well as supposedly missing ballots.

This is Hail Mary time for Coleman and it's not pretty.

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