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Norm Coleman Might Lose Seat While Election Results Decided

January 3, 2009


When the 111th Congress convenes on Tuesday, Norm Coleman may be out of an office, even though his Senate race remains far from settled.

Coleman’s first term officially expires at noon on Saturday, and he is locked in one of the closest Senate races in history, with Democrat Al Franken clinging to a 49-vote lead out of nearly 3 million votes cast.

Since he has not been certified a winner in the race, Coleman may have to give up his privileges as a senator, including his desk on the floor, his personal office and his right to vote on legislation, according to Democratic aides familiar with the rules.

Some of his staff members could continue to get paid for up to 60 days if they do not find new employment, but each eligible aide would need to return every two weeks and sign an affidavit to certify he or she has not found new work. Coleman still would be able to enter the Senate chambers and meet with his colleagues on the floor, since former members are granted floor privileges so long as they are not registered lobbyists.

It is possible, however, that all of Coleman’s privileges may remain intact should the two parties reach an accommodation, and aides signaled that talks were occurring on the matter through Friday.

“We are still reviewing the situation,” said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “Norm Coleman should respect the conclusions of the Minnesota State Canvassing Board.”

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