Now Seat Al Franken, Already
By Jo-Ann Armao
Update, 4:50 p.m.: "The Supreme Court has made its decision and I will abide by the results." With those words, former Sen. Norm Coleman (R) conceded to Al Franken, thus ending Minnesota's marathon battle for the U.S. Senate. Coleman did the right thing -- but one still wonders if he shouldn't have done it earlier, when it became clear his was a losing position all around.
There’s this wonderful scene in an old West Wing episode in which a losing presidential contender wrestles over whether to accept an offer from the man who just bested him to become secretary of state. A trusted aide asks him how he wants to enter the history books: as a statesman or as someone who just couldn’t give up?
Former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman (R) should be asking himself the same question. The Minnesota Supreme Court declared this afternoon that Democrat Al Franken is the winner of that state’s long-drawn out battle over who will represent it in the U.S. Senate. The court -- in a unanimous decision -- ruled that the former comedian Franken received the highest number of votes legally cast, with 314 votes more than Coleman. The court’s long-anticipated ruling affirmed the conclusions of an earlier and painstakingly careful recount that followed the Nov. 4 general election, in which more than 2.9 million votes were cast.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) indicated he would certify Franken the winner if the state’s highest court ruled in the Democrat’s favor. Here’s hoping Pawlenty makes good on his word. What’s unclear is what Coleman plans to do. He still has the legal option of continuing his battle in federal court.
If he does so, it will become clear that his motives lie less in the interests of those Minnesota constituents he once served than in furthering the desires of those in the national GOP who want to deny Democrats their 60th -- and all-important filibuster-breaking -- vote in the Senate. There's no question that the race was a close one and Coleman was well within his rights to ask for another look. But, seriously, how many times does Coleman think the same votes should be challenged? It’s probably long past the time when he can bow out as a gracious loser. But to continue a fight would give new definition to the word spoil sport.
It has been 239 days since election day. Since then, Congress passed an historic economic stimulus plan, the Senate is about to tackle a massive energy bill and confirm a new Supreme Court justice, and both chambers are soon to embark on an overhaul of the nation’s health care. It’s time that Minnesotans have the representation they are due and for Franken to fill the seat he won.
| June 30, 2009; 3:45 PM ET
Categories: Armao | Tags: Jo-Ann Armao
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