What Will Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty Do?

This is why they are paid the big bucks.  (Well, not such big bucks, but you get my drift.  I never beat up on the salaries we pay to elected officials as they do a lot of work and get little respect at times.)  But in the end they are there  to make the tough decisions.

The legal fight between Al Franken and Norm Coleman is headed to the desk of Gov. Tim Pawlenty — a no-win predicament for a Minnesota Republican with his eye on a White House run in 2012.

Franken won big Tuesday when a three-judge panel allowed the review of no more than 400 absentee ballots in a race he currently leads by 225 votes. Coleman’s camp says an appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court is coming; once that’s done, the dispute lands in Pawlenty’s lap.

If Franken’s ahead at that point, Pawlenty will have a choice: sign the election certificate that will allow Democrats to seat Franken in the Senate or play to the Republicans whose support he’d need in 2012 by withholding the certificate while Coleman challenges the election in the federal court system.

“The Republican Party nationally and in Minnesota is playing not just with fire, but with dynamite,” said Rep. James L. Oberstar, a Democrat and the dean of Minnesota’s congressional delegation.

Oberstar — like a lot of Democrats — says November’s election should finally be over as soon as the Minnesota Supreme Court rules.

If Pawlenty and the Republicans push it further, he says, “this thing is going to blow up in their face.”

Norm Coleman Dealt Blow By Court, Al Franken Celebrates Decision

When will the circus end so Democratic winner Al Franken can be seated and start to do the work for the people of Minnesota?  Well, tonight we are closer to the end, and even a source close to the Republican former Senator, and now poor-loser, Norm Coleman said “Its not looking good.” Well duh…you lost the election months ago!   Republican Coleman knows he has nothing left of his political career, and so is trying everything in his dirty deck of cards for a trick.  Thankfully the Court dealt Coleman one in the nards today.

After seven weeks of reviewing a hand recount, millions spent on legal fees and a tough legal ruling Tuesday afternoon, Norm Coleman still looks like the loser in the Minnesota Senate race.

But even as Democrat Al Franken’s campaign celebrated a three-judge panel’s decision to put at most 400 ballots back in play, the Coleman camp is still promising to take its case to the Minnesota Supreme Court. And it’s not ruling out an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court or filing a new lawsuit in federal district court.

Ben Ginsberg, a central player for George W. Bush during the 2000 Florida recount and Coleman’s lawyer, said, “If the court does not reverse its decision, it will give us no choice but to appeal that order to the Minnesota Supreme Court.”

And Ginsberg said it was “an open legal question” on whether the candidate leading after the Minnesota Supreme Court rules should be certified the winner and thus be seated in the Senate.

In its ruling Tuesday, the three-judge panel ordered absentee ballots to be turned over to the Minnesota secretary of state’s office by April 6. The ballots would then be counted in open court by April 7.

Once the ballots are counted on April 7, the court will very likely issue a final opinion, which can be appealed to the state Supreme Court within 10 days. That means Minnesota will most likely be without a second senator for at least the rest of April, a boon to the GOP, which is trying to prevent Democrats from getting their 59th seat in a chamber where 60 is king.

All told, the math really doesn’t look good for Coleman after this decision, as he would have to win an overwhelming majority of these 400 ballots in question to overcome Franken’s 225-vote lead, and not every one of these ballots will necessarily be opened and recounted.

“We are obviously pleased,” Marc Elias, chief legal counsel for Franken, said in a conference call with reporters. “Obviously, the math is going to be very difficult for former Sen. Coleman and his legal team. … We feel pretty good about where we stand, but we are going to wait until Tuesday for these ballots to be opened and counted.”

Norm Coleman’s Plan: Delay, Delay, Delay

When you can not win through the ballot box, do it the Republican way.

The Senate election trial is a month old, enough time to ask: Does Norm Coleman have a chance of winning?

A series of court rulings have dealt the Republican long odds for overturning DFLer Al Franken’s 225-vote lead. The three judges hearing the case have been only partly receptive to Coleman’s bid to expand the field of ballots as he seeks more votes, and they brushed aside his claim of systemic problems with Minnesota elections.

Coleman once wanted to examine up to 11,000 rejected absentee ballots in hope that enough might eventually be opened and counted to help him overtake Franken. Now he’s looking at opening perhaps a couple of thousand ballots. And the number could turn out to be even smaller.

“It’s very hard, the way it’s set up right now, for him to be able to win,” said David Schultz, a Hamline University law professor specializing in elections.

“Very slim,” was how Duke University law Prof. Guy-Uriel Charles characterized Coleman’s current chances.

“Coleman is in a bubble running out of oxygen,” said Lawrence Jacobs, a University of Minnesota political science professor.

Coleman legal spokesman Ben Ginsberg reiterated late Friday that the campaign believes the candidate still can win enough votes from the current pool of rejected absentee ballots to win.

But the three experts who have been following the trial say Coleman also appears to be playing beyond the daily courtroom action and laying the groundwork for an appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court or federal courts.

On Friday, Politico reported that the Republican National Committee has transferred $250,000 to the Minnesota Republican Party to help Coleman with his legal fees. And a funding pitch posted on YouTube last week featured key GOP senators asking viewers to donate money to the legal battle. “Anything you can do to help Norm financially to make sure that he can tell his story before the court is much appreciated,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Schultz said the YouTube pitch and Ginsberg’s remarks “really suggest that an appeal is very likely at this point. Coleman needs more money. He wants the boat to go forward, and, more importantly, Coleman, if he loses this one, is going to have to pay court costs. So he has to worry about coming up with the money, not just for his side, but for the other side.”

Minnesota Voters Want Senator Al Franken In Washington

Richard Nixon knew when to fold his cards in 1960, and Norm Coleman should do the same.  The voters in Minnesota have spoken.   (But then Richard Nixon had a future to worry about, whereas Norm Coleman has little place to go but back to local government, and I suspect many do not want him there either.)

Do you favor or oppose Norm Coleman’s legal challenge to Al Franken’s victory?
FAVOR: 34%
OPPOSE: 47%
NOT SURE: 19%

So why do Minnesotans want to move on? Probably because by an overwhelming margin they think the recount process was fair:

Which statement best reflects your point of view? The recount process has been…
…fair to both Norm Coleman and Al Franken: 63%
…mostly unfair to Norm Coleman: 17%
…mostly unfair to Al Franken: 12%
NOT SURE: 8%

Al Franken To Be Declared Winner On Monday In Minnesota

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It took longer than most of us wanted, but Minnesota will have a new United States Senator.  Al Franken will be declared the winner on Monday by the Canvassing Board in Minnesota.  Legal challenges from the Republicans will continue, but change has come to another state in America.  The GOP was truly repudiated all over the nation last November.  And Norm Coleman was such a prig.  This warms my heart on a cold winter’s night.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the just-departed chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, declared Sunday that Al Franken has won the Minnesota Senate recount against Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.).

“With the Minnesota recount complete, it is now clear that Al Franken won the election. The Canvassing Board will meet tomorrow to wrap up its work and certify him the winner, and while there are still possible legal issues that will run their course, there is no longer any doubt who will be the next Senator from Minnesota,” Schumer said in a statement.

Al Franken Now Leads With 225 Votes..Counting Virtually Done!

Amazing.  Let us recall that Norm Coleman should never have been elected to fill Paul Wellstone’s seat.  So this news is so very sweet to hear.  But know that Norm Coleman will fight to undo the vote tallies.

Norm Coleman will seek a court to undo the vote total, as undermining the will of the people is the trend for Republicans since George Bush was selected President in 2000.

Victory in Minnesota’s drawn-out Senate race moved within Democrat Al Franken’s grasp today — when he
pushed his lead over Republican Norm Coleman to 225 votes with the two-month recount virtually done. 

Franken netted 176 votes more than Republican Norm Coleman in the review of the formerly sealed absentee ballots after coming in with a 49-vote advantage.  There were 933 ballots in the pile of ballots that didn’t get counted on Election Day. 

Unless Coleman wins a pending court petition that seeks to add hundreds more ballots to the recount, the counting is done and a state board can sign off on the result on Monday or Tuesday. An election certificate, however, can’t be issued for at least one more week under state law. 

Franken attorney Marc Elias says the candidate is confident there are no more ballots to count and the margin should stand.  But Coleman hasn’t ruled out filing a lawsuit challenging the election result, claiming there were irregulaties that gave Franken an unfair advantage.

Norm Coleman Might Lose Seat While Election Results Decided

Giggle.

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.”

Norm Coleman Asks Minnesota Supreme Court To End Ballot Review

With the stakes mounting, and Democratic candidate Al Franken roughly 50 votes in the lead in the Minnesota Senate race, incumbent Norm Coleman is getting nervous. Instead of counting ballots and ascertaining the true intent of the voters, Republicans are taking a play from the contested Presidential election in 2000 in Florida.  That is, head to the courts and hope that they can stop the vote counting.  How undemocratic….how typically Republican.

Tonight is the deadline for campaigns to reach agreement on which rejected absentee ballots can be added to the mix in Minnesota’s disputed U-S Senate race between incumbent Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken.

 That could all change, if Senator Coleman’s campaign convinces the Minnesota Supreme Court to intervene and scrap the process.

On New Year’s Eve Coleman’s attorneys petitioned the high court to stop the ballot review process, which began Tuesday in a series of regional meetings across the state.

Those meetings were for the most part limited to a pool of 1,350 unopened ballots local officials decided were rejected by mistake.

The Supreme Court ruled in December that those rejects can be revived and counted, but only in cases where both campaigns agree.

In Hennepin County Friday morning, the two campaigns finished their review of 329 rejected absentee ballots. They reached agreement that 257 can be revised. The Franken campagne blocked 37 of those ballots and the Coleman campaign disqualified 32 of them.

Originally Franken’s campaign agreed to accept all 1,350 of them, but when it became clear in the Coleman campaign was blocking some of those ballots in the local review sessions the Franken campaign followed suit.

 In Ramsey County Franken’s camp shot down 33 while Coleman’s derailed 21.

On Monday Coleman’s lawyers failed to persuade the Secretary of State’s office and the Franken campaign to consider a group of 654 other rejected absentees identified by the Coleman campaign as wrongly rejected.

 Deputy Secretary of State Jim Gelbmann told local officials to focus on the stack of 1,350 they assembled; pointing out that the two campaigns missed a self-imposed deadline of 3 p.m. Monday to mutually agree on any other questionable absentees.

So Coleman is now asking the Supreme Court to force those other ballots onto the table, and to move all the judging to one central location in the Secretary of State’s office in Saint Paul.

Coleman’s lead recount attorney, Fritz Knaak, complained that local county election directors around the state weren’t applying consistent standards at those regional meetings.

He said in Mower County local election officials voluntarily agreed to review new ballots pinpointed by Coleman’s campaign. In other Duluth and Minneapolis, on the other hand, officials stuck with the original group of 1,350.

The Franken campaign criticized Coleman’s latest overture as an to “distract from the ballot counting process” and an effort to “cast doubt on the outcome of the election.”

Franken led Coleman by 49 votes after the results of the statewide manual recount were tallied.

Those rejected absentees that make the cut are scheduled to be counted on Saturday, which would clear the way for the State Canvassing Board to declare a winner on Monday.

 But Coleman’s attorneys have already signaled they’ll take the battle to a formal post-election court contest over the issue of unmarked duplicate ballots in Minneapolis they contend led to double counting of votes during the recount.