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Franken Increases Lead in Minnesota Senate Contest

By Perry Bacon
Democrat Al Franken today increased his small lead over Republican Norm Coleman in the protracted Minnesota Senate race, but it remains unclear when the five-month-long recount and election contest will end.

A Minnesota state court ordered more than 400 absentee ballots that had previously been excluded to be counted today, resulting in an increase in Franken's lead from 225 votes to 312.

The three-judge panel considering the election contest has not yet made all of its rulings, but today's count will make it virtually impossible for Coleman to move ahead of Franken in this stage of the legal fight. Coleman, who held this Senate seat from 2003-2009, has already said he will appeal this panel's decisions to the state Supreme Court, arguing the three-judge panel has excluded thousands of absentee ballots that should be counted.

About 12,000 of the 280,000 absentee ballots in the race were excluded for reasons such as improper voter registration. About 2.9 million votes were cast.

Following the November election, a six-week recount that concluded in early January put Franken ahead by 225 votes. Coleman filed a lawsuit contesting that result, putting the election in front of this panel of judges, which has been considering the case for more than seven weeks.

The Minnesota Supreme Court has not said when it would hear the case if Coleman appeals, and its decision may not end the case either. Republicans, who are strongly behind Coleman's appeals, have suggested he could challenge the state courts' decisions in federal court, and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) has sidestepped questions on whether he would certify a Franken victory before Coleman exhausted all of his legal options.

Senate Republicans have encouraged Coleman to continue his challenge, saying until the legal process is finished, it is not clear who truly won. Democratic leaders, eager to get the 59th vote for their party in the Senate, have said they will start the process of seating Franken if the state's Supreme Court rules against Coleman.

By Paul Volpe  |  April 7, 2009; 2:15 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Comments

Does anyone know on what grounds republicans would challenge a final state ruling in federal court?

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | April 7, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

The fix was in for Franken and now the courts are just playing out the hand. The Village Idiot goes to Washington.

Posted by: BubbaRight | April 7, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

During the 2000 Presidential election recount in Florida, Al Gore conceded defeat rather than put the country through a Constitutional crisis. But Norm Coleman and others in the Disloyal Opposition (GOP)would rather deprive Minnesota of its representation in the U.S. Senate than concede defeat. Interesting but not surprising.

Posted by: StevefromSacto | April 7, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Petey- See Bush v. Gore. An "equal protection" argument. Although the Court in B v G specifically said that its decision would be inapplicable in any other case. So such an appeal would arguably be frivolous on its face.

Posted by: jdonelko | April 7, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

The endless haggling MUST come to an end after the Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled. Aren't the Republicans the party that espouses 'stict Constitutionalism' and States' rights? That's all one heard during the Bush era--less Federal intervention.

Now, when it's going against them, the Republicans conveniently choose to forget that mantra, just like the oft-quoted 'Rule of law'. Be honest, if things were going the Republicans' way, wouldn't we be hearing that Franken was a sore loser and it was time to pack it in? Of course we would.

I'm not overly thrilled with Franken, but he seems to be winning fair and square.

Posted by: sverigegrabb | April 7, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

it's a very simple stall tactic....

they know they're going to lose this one, they just want to minimize the amount of time he gets to serve.

Posted by: vigor | April 7, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't it Norm Coleman who said in the immediate aftermath of the election that if he was the one behind (as Franken was at that point), he would concede as a matter of principle? I guess principles are for fools and Democrats. That, of course, is sadly typical - Republicans proudly trumpet their principles until they become a political liability, when they're quietly forgotten or rationalized away like all 6-year-olds are so good at.

Posted by: jcrobin | April 7, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

This is another example of why Rethuglicans suck Donkey dicks.

Posted by: angelos_peter | April 7, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Unbelievable to see a statement like that from Bubbaright:

"The fix was in for Franken and now the courts are just playing out the hand. The Village Idiot goes to Washington."

Replace "Franken" with "Bush" in your statement and it actually starts to make sense. Hypocrisy is a terrible disease.

Posted by: CNY-DC | April 7, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

"Petey- See Bush v. Gore. An "equal protection" argument. Although the Court in B v G specifically said that its decision would be inapplicable in any other case. So such an appeal would arguably be frivolous on its face."

That statement at the time, that the decision should not have any further application nor set precedent, has been widely panned at the time and ever since.

The Supremes failed at the time to give a specific reason why this should be true, and so have you. How frigging stupid - "well, we're going to take the widely-accepted concept of legal precedent and set it aside just for today...ummm...just because."

Posted by: achilli | April 7, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

peteywheatstraw asked: "Does anyone know on what grounds republicans would challenge a final state ruling in federal court?"

jdonelko answered: "Petey- See Bush v. Gore. An "equal protection" argument. Although the Court in B v G specifically said that its decision would be inapplicable in any other case. So such an appeal would arguably be frivolous on its face."

I don't see how a federal district court would have jurisdiction. Under Supreme Court precedent, it cannot review a decision of a state court, which involves a separate court system. Moreover, I think that there is a res judicata problem if Coleman brings a second action. Hence, his only remedy is to petition the U.S. Supreme Court.

Bush v. Gore, if I recall correctly, turned on the equal-protection problem of some ballots in Florida being treated differently from other ballots. But Minnesota is applying uniform standards to all ballots in the state. The state is entitled to establish its own rules for determining when an absentee ballot is valid or not. I do not see an equal-protection issue here.

The Republicans are simply trying to make it as hard as possible, for as long as possible, to keep the Democrats from reaching the 60-vote anti-filibuster margin in the Senate.

Posted by: phillyreader | April 7, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe the people of Minnesota are tolerating this baloney.

Posted by: esdean | April 7, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Oh heaven's... the poor comedic guy's term will be over before he's officially the weiner...I mean winner!

Posted by: bluesboy2 | April 7, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse


If Coleman and Pawlenty drag this out any longer, it may be the end of their political careers.

Posted by: bamccampbell | April 7, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Let's see...Franken's lead increased from 225 to 312, after counting "over 400" ballots. So that means that out of the "over 400" ballots, Franken got around 290 of them - that's roughly 71%. 400 is a pretty good-size sample space, so if they go ahead and count the rest of the 12,000 absentee ballots the GOP wants counted, Franken could conceivably increase his lead by about 8,500.

Is this somewhere the GOP really wants to go?

Posted by: achilli | April 7, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Once again the GOP (Greedy Old Pharts) show that they don't give a damn about America. Their only reason for being is to get power, keep power, and do anything and everything subhumanly possible to gain even more power - and they all goose-step to the same pathetic tune.

Posted by: Bushwhacked1 | April 7, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Bottom Line - - - -
Politicians, Lawyers, & Preachers.
The Bane of mankind.

Posted by: lufrank1 | April 7, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse


i wish the friggin wanker franken would just go crawl back under the bridge he came out from.

Posted by: DriveByPoster | April 7, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

This is hilarious ... Coleman sues, and Franken winds up with even more votes! And Coleman's people are still crying foul!! Not to mention that Coleman is up to his eyeballs in ethics problems anyway.

Posted by: gso-chris | April 7, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Governor Pawlenty's promise of no new taxes has lead to countless fees being raised in Minnesota to make up for the losses. Yet he is praised by his cronies for being so conservative. He won't sign anything granting the seat to Franken until Coleman has exhausted the legal process. What is right for Pawlenty is whaat is right for the national caucus, not Minnesota. He is simply posturing for national limelight.

Posted by: MikeinMinnesota | April 7, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

HOW SAD THAT MINNESOTA HAS BEEN WITHOUT FULL REPRESENTATION IN THE SENATE DUE TO THE "NO" REPUBLICAN PARTY. THIS IS A PRIME EXAMPLE OF THEIR WILLINGNESS TO BE REPUBLICANS FIRST AND NOT AMERICANS.

Posted by: aliciasimmons | April 8, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Ain't it funny, how "improper voter registration" is claimed when a Republican is losing, but when a Democrat tries that (remember Florida 2000?), well, that's quite a different story. Note well: Republicans do not listen to courts, either. Or to the voters. Check the Colorado Supreme Court case upholding a freeze in property taxes, approved by the voters in 172 of 178 voting districts statewide. The GOP is throwing a MAJOR hissy fit. Imagine: they might have to actually pay for those mansions! But, relax: more layoffs will cure that. Got my Lexus ready, Jeeves?

Posted by: MouthSore | April 8, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

We all know what Frankens yankin. He's a tax evading, elitist Big Government stooge. If he really wants to do what's best for America, concede the election and let's get on with the business of having citizens be responsible for themselves and their actions.

Posted by: nal123 | April 9, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

question: how many P.B.R.'s does it take before BUBBARIGHT is able to log on? answer: no one knows. he passes out after 3 cases. i am very happy to see so many of the responses refering to the bush/gore problems. we democrates may be a great many things to an equal number of people...but, we show far more class and personnal grace when we are f·%$&$% in the &%$/ by the god awful putzes.....er, excuss me...the g.o.p.....for those of you who have expressed deep personal concern for the people of minnisota, thank-you...but you have short memories.....who was the governor just a short time ago? and you are worried about al franken? come on.......it isnt the length of thr current term you should be frettinhg over......you just cant buy publisity like this. we all look forward to the 2nd-3thd-4th------OH, BABY!!!!!!

Posted by: dhousand1 | April 9, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

The fix was in for Franken and now the courts are just playing out the hand. The Village Idiot goes to Washington.

-------------------------------------------
I was going to make the case for changing Franken's name to Bush but another poster beat me to it, so we'll just go with this poster's take on the whole thing: "This is another example of why Rethuglicans suck Donkey dicks."


Now how's THAT for getting to the point, Bubba ?

Posted by: dennissuper | April 10, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

As a Minnesotan, I am distressed that we have one half the representation of neighboring North Dakota, which has fewer citizens than the city of Minneapolis. The constitutional guarantee of two senators per state was the winning compromise which insured the death of the Articles of Confederation and the adoption of the Constitution. Governor Pavlenty, certify the winner, already. I guess Canada has a better idea in appointing her Senators.

Posted by: rrbill1 | April 10, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

As a Minnesotan, I resent the fact that due to the inaction of our Governor in certifying a winner, we have one half the representation of neighboring North Dakota, which has less population than Minneapolis.
Perhaps the Canadians have a better idea in appointing their Senators.

Posted by: rrbill1 | April 10, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

nal123- I have to ask- how does the person in the lead "concede" the election? Franken has the most votes so Coleman would have to be the one to concede, which he should do.

Posted by: alaskan2 | April 10, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

colman is a tipicle repub

Posted by: stancy59 | April 10, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

To Republicans strict constructionism applies only to the second ammendment, period!

Posted by: nwsjnky1 | April 11, 2009 5:03 AM | Report abuse

During the 2000 Presidential election recount in Florida, Al Gore conceded defeat rather than put the country through a Constitutional crisis. But Norm Coleman and others in the Disloyal Opposition (GOP)would rather deprive Minnesota of its representation in the U.S. Senate than concede defeat. Interesting but not surprising.

Posted by: StevefromSacto | April 7, 2009 2:54 PM
===========================================
You've got to be kidding. Al Gore quit when the Supreme Court ruled in Bushes favor. He did'nt concede for the good of the country.

Posted by: saw1 | April 11, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Coleman won the night of the election. Then people were bringing votes out of the woodwork for Frankin. I heard out of trunks of cars. This was a cheated election and should have been redone!

Posted by: pegaleen78 | April 11, 2009 9:41 PM | Report abuse

the left wing looney tunes are trying to steal another senate race after they sold out america and made a disgrace OF AMERICA by bowing to THE SHIEK,the left wing will sell America to the highest bidder,Nazi Pelosi Husband Owns Star KIST TUNA FISH CO And Half of San Francisco

Posted by: lmjm08yahoocom | April 12, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

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