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Democrats Must Wait for 60 as Coleman Fights On

By Perry Bacon Jr.
While Democrats are excited about the prospect of a supermajority of 60 senators after Sen. Arlen Specter joined their party, they will have to wait at least another month for that to become reality.

Norm Coleman's campaign manager said yesterday that the former Minnesota senator would continue to contest the results of his election in November against Democrat Al Franken. A district court in the state ruled earlier this month that Franken won the election by 312 votes, but Coleman appealed to the state's Supreme Court, which will start hearing arguments in the case on June 1.

"Senator Coleman's focus remains on the thousands of Minnesota citizens who have not had their voices heard or their votes counted," said Coleman campaign manager Cullen Sheehan. "We will keep on fighting to enfranchise these voters and to ensure that every legally cast ballot is opened and counted."

Franken, on the advice of advisers, has largely stayed silent throughout the recount process and said little after the Specter switch. But he announced the hiring of a chief staff yesterday, Drew Littman, a longtime Capitol Hill staffer who has served in a number of posts, including policy director for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) The hiring comes a week after Franken tapped a person as his state director and suggests the Democrat's strategy of portraying this race as all but over.

"With his years of experience and his expertise in helping new Senators hit the ground running, Drew has become a trusted advisor and a valuable resource as I prepare to take office," Franken said in a statement. "I will continue to count on him as I work with Senators from both parties."

Franken is already trying to lay the groundwork for his Senate career. He, like Coleman, won 42% of the vote in November as an independent pulled in 15%. And Franken remains rather unpopular, as the Star-Tribune poll found he was viewed unfavorably by 48% of the voters in the state, while 43% percent had a favorable view of the ex-comedian.

Looking to reverse those numbers, Franken, once a highly-partisan Democratic activist, uses most of his public statement to tout his vision of bi-partisanship. And he is saying he will follow the example of Bill Bradley and Hillary Clinton, two people who entered the Senate with great fanfare but spent their early years in the Senate trying not to draw attention.

"I'm going to follow the Bradley-Clinton model of putting my head down and getting to work ... and letting my colleagues know that I want to do that and I'm not someone that's going to be speaking on the floor my first day there," he told the St. Paul Pioneer Press last week.

It remains unclear how long the legal process will continue before someone is seated in Minnesota. Coleman has suggested he would start a whole new round of appeals in federal court if he loses at the state Supreme Court, and so far GOP leaders in Washington, who have helped him raise millions for his legal case, have said they would back such an option.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) has declined to answer when asked if he would sign an election certificate that would allow the seating of Franken if his follow Republican Coleman loses at the state Supreme Court. The Minnesota governor faces a complicated political decision if Coleman continues his case. Pawlenty is considering a run for reelection in 2010, and a recent poll by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune suggests he would be wise to distance himself from the Coleman: 64% of respondents in the poll said Coleman should not have appealed to the state Supreme Court.

But Pawlenty is also considering a 2012 presidential run and easing the Democrats's path to their 60th seat might anger GOP activists nationally.

By Paul Volpe  |  April 29, 2009; 1:39 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Next: House GOP Moderates Dismayed by Specter Move, But Won't Follow Suit


Can you imagine a democrat doing what Coleman is doing?
Get over it you bunch of losers.
The people have spoken!

Posted by: samellison | April 29, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

..."Wow/Republicans/Doing/All/They/Can/STEAL/LIE/HOLDUP/U.S. Senate!

..."Take a good look America this is the Republicans at their/ sure now you run and Vote Republican Again after all their Record/shows/CRIMINAL, and wow have they dumped a MESS/DISASTER in President Barack Obama's lap!

..."One more fact, "Holding hostage U.S. Senate denying M.N. Voter's a Voice in U.S. Senate as well as holding hostage Al's Seat the nation knows he clearly won!

..."Love the Republcian/record/mess/disaster


Posted by: ztcb41 | April 29, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

I certainly hope that the Minnesota legislature will take action to insure that this can NEVER AGAIN happen! There are even options that would avoid an expensive second election, such as the instant runoff system. From

Instant-runoff voting (IRV) is the American English term for a voting system used for single-winner elections, in which voters rank candidates in an order of preference. If no candidate is the first preference of a majority of voters, the candidate with the fewest number of first preference rankings is eliminated and that candidate's ballots are redistributed at full value to the remaining candidates according to the next ranking on each ballot. This process is repeated until one candidate obtains a majority of votes among candidates not eliminated. The term "instant runoff" is used because the method is said to simulate a series of runoff elections tallied in rounds, as in an exhaustive ballot election.

Posted by: dotellen | April 29, 2009 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Instant Runoff Votining would never work in the 2-party US system, for the same reason that open primaries don't work. In the '90s, Washington State voters got a wacked-out far-right candidate to win the Republican primary--not because people thought she was the best qualified, but because every Democrat in the state voted for her, knowing she'd be easy to beat in the general election. On an IRV ballot, every Dem would put the Dem at #1 and the Republican at #10, after every wacked-out 3rd party candidate on the ballot; likewise with the Republicans putting their guy at the top and the Dem at the bottom.

Anyway, back to Coleman and the GOP--what a bunch of criminals, willing to subvert the will of the people for their own partisan gain. If the governor doesn't certify this election soon, he will certainly be voted out. Everyone in the US except the GOP leaders seems to understand this!

Posted by: Snydley | April 29, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Gov. Pawlenty can't distance himself from Coleman at this point. His only out is to tell Coleman to gracefully concede otherwise Pawlenty will be labeled more Partisan than he already is.

Posted by: knjincvc | April 30, 2009 12:16 AM | Report abuse

Can you imagine the renewed desperation of the republicans, now that Specter has defected?

The demands for party unity, party purity, and ideological absolutism will only intensify.

Where for art thou Republican?
I'm here in the bathroom, cutting my wrist.

Posted by: katavo | April 30, 2009 1:52 AM | Report abuse

That's typical of the Repuglicans! Throwing goog money after bad & wasting peoples time!The FAT LADY HAS SUNG,Norm! It's Over!

Posted by: asclepious2 | April 30, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

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