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Mr. Franken Comes to Washington

Entertainer Al Franken (D-Minn.) will spend the next two days in Washington readying himself to serve in the Senate, a move that comes even as the contested Minnesota Senate election plods on.

Franken arrives in town tonight and will be here through Thursday for a visit aimed at "preparing him for the Senate, both in terms of policy and in terms of familiarizing himself with the institution of the Senate and how it operates," said a source familiar with the trip's itinerary.

Franken's meeting schedule over the next 48 hours includes sitdowns with current Senate staffers, people involved with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and former Hill staffers including the late Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone's senior policy adviser.

Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R) will also be in town tomorrow for a fundraiser at the National Republican Senatorial Committee designed to raise cash to continue to fund his election contest.

The dueling trips come just days after Franken sat for an interview with the Associated Press in which he acknowledged being "frustrated" with the election contest process, which is now in its third week, but added: "What is in my control is to prepare so that when I get to the Senate, I'm ready to go on day one."

As Franken prepared to come to Washington, the three judge state panel charged with overseeing the election challenge brought by Coleman charging significant irregularities in a recount process that ended with Franken leading by 225 votes.

Earlier today, the panel ruled that 25 voters could have their previously rejected absentee ballots counted -- a decision that both sides praised although, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the majority of the ballots are from Franken supporters.

"Al Franken could live up to his word of wanting to count every vote if he would tell his supporters that the full lot of 12,000 -- not just his list of cherry-picked ballots -- should be examined so we make sure that all valid are votes counted," said Coleman campaign manager Cullen Sheehan in the wake of the ruling.

Senate Republicans continue to maintain that any attempt to seat Franken before the election contest is formally resolved will be met with a filibuster so the Democrat's latest trip to Washington isn't likely to end with him taking the oath of office.

But, it's a symbolic step to show Minnesota voters that Franken is doing what he needs to do to be ready to serve if and when he is formally declared the winner.

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 10, 2009; 3:48 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Comments

Norm Coleman and his people privately realize they can't win. So do Republicans around the country. He lost. And he can't present any kind of credible argument for why the results---verified under the process approved by Minnesota state law---should be overturned.

So why do Coleman and his Republican backers keep fighting this? It's clear: They want to keep Al Franken from taking his senate seat, thus preventing the Democrats from getting an additional vote for upcoming crucial legislation.

Politics comes first to this cynical, manipulative and deceitful generation of Republicans. The country---even when it's in a financial crisis---matters little to these GOP "leaders". All they care about is regaining power and doing the bidding of their wealthiest contributors. Shame on all of them.

Posted by: snesich | February 13, 2009 2:56 AM | Report abuse

Norm Coleman was at best a fluke in the Senate anyway. The only reason he won in 2002 was because Sen. Paul Welstone, the incumbent, died in a plane crash two weeks before the election. In addition, Coleman took advantage of the fearmongering of the Bush-Chaney-Rove smear machine to squeak by last-minute replacement on the Democratic ticket, Walter Mondale to "victory". A seasoned Democratic candidate could've defeated him last year by a wide margin; a political novice like Franken made the race in blue Minnesota much closer than it should have been.

If Coleman had ANY grace, he would give up this fool's errand and get on with his life. But arrogance seems to run rampant in the Republican Party. Eight years of Bush-Chaney-Rove only drive home this fact. "Pride cometh before a fall."

Posted by: NMguy1 | February 12, 2009 12:43 AM | Report abuse

States are starting to assert their rights under the 10th Amendment. The Federal Government is out of control and pass entitlements that cannot be funded, that are then passed on the States to pay for. http://worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=88218

This is not just "southern" states movement and it is a growing sentiment. No where in the stimulus discussions has anyone said anything about cutting back on expenditures/entitlements that we can no longer afford. Instead they are creating more government and overheads. Social Security is broke, medicare is broke, we the people are 50 to 100 trillion dollars in debt, and we just keep digging the hole deeper.

When no one buys our notes (no more credit) and we can no longer afford the interest payments something is going to break. It is already happening in California and that is just a sample of what is to come.

How many of you have been receiving notices from your credit card companies increasing the interest rates on unpaid balances to as much as 30% plus prime. At this time the citizens in this country carry over a trillion in credit card debt. This is going to push even more people on the edge over the cliff.

No consideration of trying to stimulate people to save, to see a plan to balance the budget just more spending.

There is nothing to celebrate in the passage of this pork bill. It is not a celebration, that is Nero you hear fiddling in the background. The bill for all of this debt is going to come due and it is going to be very ugly.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | February 11, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Great a clown for president, a comedian in the Senate and the Great Mother of All Wing-nuts in the House. Larry, Moe & Curly Joe will be very entertaining to watch. A sad day for our country.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | February 11, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

CONGRATS Mr. Franken on hanging tough and pulling out a victory in the face of GOP cheating. Their cheating just makes the WIN sweeter!

Posted by: free-donny | February 11, 2009 8:14 PM | Report abuse

If this babbling, drooling moron ever makes it to the senate, we can be sure he will stand jowl to jowl with Stabenow to help destroy the first amendment.
Like Stabenow, Franken is linked to Air America, that failed, loser left wing attempt at talk radio.
And like Stabenow, the media will ignore the obvious conflict of interest.
Posted by: VirginiaConservative | February 11, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

//

LOL…are you by any chance the same Virginia Conservative whose web log is discussing secession?

"Will the American experiment crumble into fifty separate nations or will the issue be resolved through peaceful diplomacy…or bloody warfare? Are we, or will we be, a Republic of fifty United States or an Empire of provinces? Therein lies our answer. If we lay aside or are stripped of the principles and values under which this nation was founded, then I have little choice but to say, “If at first you don’t secede…”

Right. Now there’s a threat.

"Lastly, the South certainly does have its share of flaws that are in need of correction. But on the other hand, certain other segments of the population annoy me greatly (the Yankee superiority complex, liberals, overbearing atheists, to name just a few). However, I do not wish death or plague upon them. They have as much right to their thoughts as I. After all, is that not the true spirit of America?

Gee. I feel warm all over.

Bad news. If there's a second Civil War, it won't be fought by proud cavaliers with ostrich feathers in their hats. Those arrogant Yankees on whom you don't wish death (what a relief) have already invaded. Their weapons are money, business savvy, efficiency and rationality, not this laughable nostalgia. I'm sure it'll annoy you greatly while you're asking one of their companies for a job. The Old South is dead, dead, dead. Whatever's left of it is the smugness and futility of posts like this--this hollow BS about Yankee superiority complex, liberals, and bearing atheists.

Maybe you ought to declare your independence. Start the nation of bitter partisan cranks. You can put Norm Coleman on your currency and Rush on your flag.

You wannabe Lost Causers crack me up.


Posted by: Attucks | February 11, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

VirginiaConservative - you are one bitter person! Why are you sitting at your computer typing insults into these comments? You should get yourself back to the Senate - there are some new rules going down and you guys are just going to have to deal with ACTUALLY REPRESENTING THE PEOPLE!
Sheesh - sour grapes anyone?

Posted by: sheridan1 | February 11, 2009 7:04 PM | Report abuse

You mean Senator-Elect Franken I'm sure.

Posted by: fletc3her | February 11, 2009 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Ok, sorry about the snark. I figured out that Seminarian is a who and not a what.

Posted by: dude_too | February 11, 2009 6:30 PM | Report abuse

I blame the copy editors, or lack of them in the current state of the news business, as much as I blame Chris for leaving out a verb. But what I really want to know is: what is a "Seminarian," and what would a seminarian have to do with English grammar and usage anyway?

Posted by: dude_too | February 11, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

I blame the copy editors, or lack of them in the current state of the news business, as much as I blame Chris for leaving out a verb. But what I really want to know is: what is a "Seminarian," and what would a seminarian have to do with English grammar and usage anyway?

Posted by: dude_too | February 11, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Coleman is a typical Republican.
Sour-grapes, sore loser, who is too crass to acknowledge defeat graciously.
The game here is that the RNC is propelling this case through the courts:
1. Because they can.
2. To keep the Democrats' lead in the Senate a bit more diluted for as long as possible.
3. To try to hang up legislation in the Senate for as long as they can.
The new RNC chair Steele equates their position with that of the Taliban.
Domestic terrorists -- good description.
With "friends" like Republicans roaming this country, we don't even need to worry about OBL.
Our domestic enemies driven by partisan zeal are entrenched in most areas of public life.
It's a very sad reflection of the depths to which this country has sunk, thanks to the antics of the previous administration.

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | February 11, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

A gold star for grammar if you can spot the verb in the following sentence from the February 10 piece "Mr. Franken Comes to Washington:" "As Franken prepared to come to Washington, the three judge state panel charged with overseeing the election challenge brought by Coleman charging significant irregularities in a recount process that ended with Franken leading by 225 votes."

Posted by: drelectrc | February 11, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

"One thing is 100% clear, republicans are 1,000% stronger than the democrats."

Which totally explains their recent electoral success...

"If this babbling, drooling moron ever makes it to the senate, we can be sure he will stand jowl to jowl with Stabenow to help destroy the first amendment. Like Stabenow, Franken is linked to Air America, that failed, loser left wing attempt at talk radio."

I'll bite again. How does having a radio station equal "destroying the first amendment?" It seems to be exercising it....

"Franken should have conceded when the first vote tally was in but, no, the Dems used A LOT OF MONEY to find dead voters and blatantly fictious names to vote in a number of precincts."

Which is exactly why the courts have found Coleman's claims to be valid time and time again and upheld as legitimate all of his claims....oh wait, nevermind. He hasnt found one legitimate piece of evidence to back a single claim that has been supstantiated by the courts, and even he isn't raising anything as idiotic as this post suggests, because it just plain didn't happen...

Posted by: kreuz_missile | February 11, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Just a very small bit of revenge over W's theft of the election. Do you like how it feels? Doesn't go very far in repairing the mess W-Cheney left the country in, however.

Posted by: kinoworks | February 11, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

mcqatak asks: How much is too much? It's an interesting question, and the answer is that until this mess of an election is resolved to everyone's satisfaction (and good luck with that), it will drag on and on and on. Oh, wait. It already has.

Why? Because we have set in motion in this country an environment of absolute, total partisan mistrust, characterized by bile, thrust and parry, scamming the system and stealing elections. The few have pitted the many against each other and I'm guessing they're finding it quite amusing.

Mark Ritchie, Minnesota's Secretary of State, is heading up a process that is thorough and that adheres to law, which is the only way to play this high-stakes game. Now, every time it appears things could be winding down, the Coleman camp files another lawsuit, fires another shot across the bow, challenges, refutes, backs 180 degrees from challenges and challenges those challenges. On and on it goes.

It seems quite clear to me that the goal of Republicans nationwide (because this issue transcends MN politics) is to keep Al Franken out of the Senate for as long as possible. The goal is to muddy and bloody the waters for MN voters who are one Senator short of being represented in the most important issues of our time, and for the nation as a whole.

And just so you know, GOP? The people are not amused and we have long memories.


Posted by: grameebabs | February 11, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Coleman is making Minn look bad he needs to give up like Al Gore did in election 2000 when Bush stole the election.

Posted by: mattadamsdietmanager1014 | February 11, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I'll bite: HOW is Sen. Stabenow "linked to" Air America?

Posted by: mattintx | February 11, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

That the whiney crybaby Fraken and his puppetmasters (George Soros, etc) have come so close to buying this election is a shame on Minnesota.
Franken should have conceded when the first vote tally was in but, no, the Dems
used A LOT OF MONEY to find dead voters and blatantly fictious names to vote in a number of precincts. When the Dems come up with more votes than registered voters in a precinct (at least in two precincts), they have been caught. Norm Coleman and the Repubs have a duty to pursue this to the bitter end.

Posted by: jhedal | February 11, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

If this babbling, drooling moron ever makes it to the senate, we can be sure he will stand jowl to jowl with Stabenow to help destroy the first amendment.

Like Stabenow, Franken is linked to Air America, that failed, loser left wing attempt at talk radio.

And like Stabenow, the media will ignore the obvious conflict of interest.

Posted by: VirginiaConservative | February 11, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

The Repubs appear interested in one thing: challenging the record for all-time fewest Senate seats by the minority party: 16 in 1934 (I maybe off on the year but it was definitely during the Great Depression).

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | February 11, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

How much is too much? Daily we see Americans from every corner of this great country mightily striving at the oars under the compounding weight of lost jobs, homes, health care, savings, and educational opportunities. Just yesterday we saw a woman in Ft. Myers, Florida who is living in her car, we saw a couple in Tennessee, expecting a baby, who have both lost their jobs while many of the small businesses in the area are now closed or closing, and we saw a tornado devastate an Oklahoma town. In the face of catastrophic loss, hardship, and disaster; how much is too much?

Too much is watching this process in Minnesota. Is this a state that is infinitely wealthy such that the mere costs of this perpetual election are of no consequence? Is this a state that is not facing ever increasing joblessness? Is this a state that is not seeking any assistance and/or support from the federal government? How much is too much?

Too much is watching this process in Minnesota. Is there no end to the meticulous technical interpretations of election law and precedence to challenge because the "other winner" lost on November 4th? Is there no need for Minnesota to be wholly represented in the Senate according to the U.S. Constitution? Is there no respect for the people of Minnesota and Americans at large? How much is too much?

It is simply and absolutely TOO MUCH. Our nation is engaged in two wars, our economy has been decimated!... And as the greatest nation on earth burns; the U.S. House of Representatives is searching for the hose of their personal choice, color, shape, and size; the U.S. Senate is holding out for the best priced hose with the best features on the third Tuesday after the first frost at the equator; and yes, Minnesota election officials, the governor, the supervisor of elections, and the two candidates are still casting ballots, stones, and legal challenges rather than just getting a hose to SAVE the U.S.A.!

How much is too much?

Posted by: mcqatak | February 11, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

What's the matter, Seminarian -- don't you like playing Find The Verb??

Posted by: fallschurch1 | February 11, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

One thing is 100% clear, republicans are 1,000% stronger than the democrats. Look at the last 2 years when Harry the "weak" followed Bush like a puppy. Look at the last 2 years while the democrats were afraid to oppose Bush. Look at the past 2 weeks, the democrats are on their knees begging the republicans & making fools of themselves to no avail. If the parties were reversed the republicans would do as they always have done, told the democrats to stick it & they would have done it the way they wanted. Look at how the republicans ran the house for 8 years, walking over everything including even asking the democrats to be in the room when things were done, look at the senate where the dem's were threatened with the 60 rule being dumped, time & time again the democrats quivered & in their pants/skirts & caved in to the "LOUDER/BOLDER republicans with backbones. Sorry Mr. Obama, this is a time for action & you & Harry "The Weak" & Nancy "the do nothing" need to get together, read the republican play books of the past & put them into action....

Posted by: MrReal | February 11, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Didn't Coleman say on election night something to the effect that the apparent loser just ought to concede graciously? Oh, sorry. My bad. Republicans just think the rules apply to other people, not to them.

Posted by: nick4 | February 11, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Senator Franken..... We hope this will finally and for ever put to rest the left's squealing about "qualifications" and "experience" for public office.

Members of congress are often times accused of being morons, stupid, vacuous and otherwise challenged.

Well, now its official.

On top of the above, given the left's antagonistic stance against paying taxes, Franken should shoot immediately to a chair position.

Posted by: VirginiaConservative | February 11, 2009 6:44 AM | Report abuse

gangsters w /o guns a description of politicans spoken to me by the then chairman of the franklin county pa.democrats. how sad. poly meaning many; tics meaning parasite blood suckers.jay leno thank you jim fenton

Posted by: freebutch1embarqmailcom | February 11, 2009 5:56 AM | Report abuse

When is this farce going to end! We are now more than three months beyond the election and still no second senator from Minnesota. Considering the obstructionist tactics from republicans since Obama got inaugurated, I can understand that Coleman will do anything to keep Franken out of the Senate one more day. It serves the republican purpose of hindering Obama at all cost. After all it would give the Democrats 59 votes and we have all seen in the past week how important every vote is. But enough is enough!!! If the Senate can work during weekends and evenings, surely this Minnesota Court can get the led out of it's arse and get this thing settled. Franken won, Democrats deserve this extra seat and the obstructionist tactics by republican governors, secretary of states and/or judges is inappropriate, self-serving and hurting our great country! GET IT DONE!

Posted by: Opa2 | February 11, 2009 2:31 AM | Report abuse

When is this farce going to end! We are now more than three months beyond the election and still no second senator from Minnesota. Considering the obstructionist tactics from republicans since Obama got inaugurated, I can understand that Coleman will do anything to keep Franken out of the Senate one more day. It serves the republican purpose of hindering Obama at all cost. After all it would give the Democrats 59 votes and we have all seen in the past week how important every vote is. But enough is enough!!! If the Senate can work during weekends and evenings, surely this Minnesota Court can get the led out of it's arse and get this thing settled. Franken won, Democrats deserve this extra seat and the obstructionist tactics by republican governors, secretary of states and/or judges is inappropriate, self-serving and hurting our great country! GET IT DONE!

Posted by: Opa2 | February 11, 2009 2:30 AM | Report abuse

"As Franken prepared to come to Washington, the three judge state panel charged with overseeing the election challenge brought by Coleman charging significant irregularities in a recount process that ended with Franken leading by 225 votes."

Chris, that is not a sentence! Proofread your work.

Posted by: Seminarian | February 10, 2009 9:32 PM | Report abuse

"As Franken prepared to come to Washington, the three judge state panel charged with overseeing the election challenge brought by Coleman charging significant irregularities in a recount process that ended with Franken leading by 225 votes."

Chris, that is not a sentence! Proofread your work.

Posted by: Seminarian | February 10, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

The Election Contest brought before the 3-Judge Panel by Loser-elect Norm Coleman has been ripe with courtroom moments funnier than some clips on America's Funniest Home Videos.
One Coleman witness got caught Perjuring himself and became giddy fessing-up to being put-up. Another Coleman witness was outed by his own lawyer, who interrupted the proceedings and loudly advised the Court that his client was flat-out lying on the stand.
The only thing really getting resolved in Court is the fact that a whole bunch of people from Minnesota, who filled-out Absentee Ballots for the last election, would have been better-off going to the Polls. Their Absentee Ballots are so F.U.B.A.R. they've been REJECTED three times and are about to get REJECTED AGAIN, once and for all.

Posted by: RickCoMatic | February 10, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

The rule is 3/5 of the senators duly sworn. Judd Gregg, while abstaining due to his nomination, is still a member of the Senate (much like Obama and McCain were during the campaign, or Ted Kennedy is even while ill). Therefore the total membership of the Senate is still 99, and even 59/99 (if Franken were seated before Gregg resigned) wouldn't clear the 3/5 supermajority. The 60% you use, while valid, doesn't tend to come into play because vacancies are usually filled pretty quick (unlike the NY and IL situations, more like the CO and DE ones). The House is more prone to not have their full complement at any one time. Of course, if Feingold's amendment passes to require elections to fill Senate seats, this could come into play as time goes on.

Posted by: kmcandrew | February 10, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

AWESOME......

now we have 59 and soon we'll have the magical number 60. Republican obstruction is soon to be a bi-word. http://www.need4trth.blogspot.com. Take a look at the truth

Posted by: need4trth | February 10, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

I can't wait to here Bill O and Hannity refer to him as Senator Al Franken. There may be nothing sweeter.

Posted by: jimcummings | February 10, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

So Coleman is coming to town to hold a fund raiser, maybe he can use the funds after Franken is seated for his legal fund!

Posted by: sfilutze | February 10, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Coleman taking that lobbying job was a clear sign of where he thinks this is going; I really wish he'd just admit defeat, but he's entitled to see the process through. Franken will take his seat, hopefully within the month.

Posted by: SeanC1 | February 10, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

COLEMAN NEEDS TO GIVE UP ITS OVER! He will just make it worse for himself when Franken is seated as the new Senator.

Posted by: mattadamsdietmanager1014 | February 10, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse


Never mind. I reviewed the Senate rules. It requires an affirmative vote of 3/5 of those Senators "duly chosen and sworn."

Since Gregg is currently "duly chosen and sworn," we currently have 99 Senators, and therefore 60 votes is still required.

In case the rest of the Senate voted 59-39, Gregg would have to vote for cloture or aggravate his new boss.

Once Franken is sworn in, the Dems will need a single GOP vote.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | February 10, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

The Borgen Project has some good info on the cost of addressing global poverty.

$30 billion: Annual shortfall to end world hunger.
$550 billion: U.S. Defense budget

Posted by: atsegga | February 10, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Chris,

With these last two votes in the Senate, I see that Judd Gregg isn't voting, presumably not to offend his GOP colleagues or his future boss.

Isn't it true that a supermajority (e.g., cloture vote) requires 3/5, not "60 votes?" This comes into play because

59/98 = 60.2%

If I'm correct, then the Dems need only one GOP Senator to vote for cloture, as long as Gregg abstains. Once his successor is sworn in, they'd need 2 again, at least until Franken is admitted.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | February 10, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

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