March 10th, 2009
05:05 PM ET
5 years ago

Franken: Light at the end of the tunnel

Al Franken says a resolution is near in his marathon battle against Norm Coleman for the contested Senate seat from Minnesota.
Al Franken says a resolution is near in his marathon battle against Norm Coleman for the contested Senate seat from Minnesota.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Al Franken says a resolution is near in his marathon battle against Norm Coleman for the contested Senate seat from Minnesota.

Franken made his comments after meeting with Senate Democrats at their weekly luncheon on Capitol Hill. "What I did today was fill them in,” Franken told reporters he left his meeting with Senate Democrats. There's pretty much a light at the end of the tunnel so I kind of told them what was going to happen.”

His comments came 18 weeks after election day. For those of you keeping count, that's 126 days with no resolution.

Coleman, the Republican freshman senator from Minnesota, led Franken by 215 votes after Election Day, out of nearly three million ballots cast. That tiny margin triggered an automatic recount. Franken, the progressive radio host, comedian, and former Saturday Night Live star, led Coleman by 225 votes following the two month long recount.

Coleman contested the recount results, and a three-judge panel is currently considering which disputed ballots may be added to the recount. If Coleman loses the ruling, he could appeal to Minnesota's state Supreme Court.

(Updated with Coleman camp reaction after the jump)

Franken attempted but failed to legally force Minnesota's Republican Governor and Democratic Secretary of State to certify him as the winner before the verdict in the recount lawsuit.

Franken today ruled out being seated until the pending court challenges are resolved, something Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has also indicated in the past few weeks.

An attempt by Senate Democrats to seat Franken without an election certificate and before all legal proceedings were settled would spark partisan fight, since Franken, if he won, would become the 59th member of the Democrats' coalition in a chamber that requires 60 votes for a filibuster-proof majority.

“I think based on the recount, a bipartisan recount done fairly, people think that he (Franken) will prevail in the end but they also believe the Minnesota process should be allowed to be completed," Minnesota's lone senator, Democrat Amy Klobuchar, told CNN when asked if her party was preparing for the possibility that Franken may lose the legal battle.

Klobuchar added that "there was no discussion about doing anything except that, and that’s allowing the Minnesota process to finish up.”

Update: Coleman campaign manager Cullen Sheehan fired back in a statement Tuesday afternoon. "Al Franken doesn't know the difference between a light in the tunnel and the freight train that is coming right at him. The freight train is coming, and it's Senator Norm Coleman being re-elected to the United States Senate," he said. "And, if the contest court results are fair and legal, that freight train is going straight to D.C. with Senator Norm Coleman returning to continue his work for the people of Minnesota to get our economy back on track and creating jobs for the people of our state."


Filed under: Al Franken • Minnesota • Norm Coleman
soundoff (77 Responses)
  1. MN Voter

    @ Stuart: "If a small margin of victory triggered a first recount, why doesn't a second small margin of victory trigger a second recount? How come this recount is considered accurate, but the first recount isn't accurate?" - Because the original results that triggered the re-count were just general, unreviewed results. The re-count which was triggered was conducted with a panel of judges as well as representatives from both sides. They went over all of the results as well as ballots that were in question (where people circled instead of filling in the dot, etc.). Both sides had their say on the questionable one and the bi-partisan panel decided. THAT is how the re-count was conducted and that is why the results of the re-count are as accurate as you are going to get. Coleman is suing to try to have ballots that were thrown out during the re-count (many of which his side agreed were invalid) reconsidered yet again. For example, someone wrote in "Lizard People" so perhaps Coleman wants to argue that actually means him and that ballot should be counted in his favor.

    March 10, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  2. jaye

    HOW LONG is this going to continue??
    And WHY isn't Coleman up on fraud charges yet???

    March 10, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  3. ex illinois man, now a pennsylvanian

    if there is a god or goddess of politics out there, i beg and plead him or her to end this recount fairly and quickly so i can stop speculating on it. I'm getting so tired of it.

    March 10, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  4. No Vaseline

    Coleman is a disgrace

    March 10, 2009 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  5. Bettie in NJ

    I am wondering what is in his political life that is causing him to fight so hard to keep a position that the recount shows he lost. My question is: Are their secrets that he is tryying to cover up that may leak out if he doesn't get back to Washington? Apparently Coleman is not performing as a gentleman should. He is not acting with graciousness or in the spirit of an American who has the people's best interest at heart. It causes me to feel shame.

    March 10, 2009 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  6. texasgreenacres

    that lady don't know the diffrence between a freight train and a train wreck and a train wreck is what Al Franken has caused, he will be seated

    March 10, 2009 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  7. Bettie in NJ

    I am wondering what is in Coleman's political life that is causing him to fight so hard to keep a position that the recount shows he lost. My question is: Are their secrets that he is tryying to cover up that may leak out if he doesn't get back to Washington? Apparently Coleman is not performing as a gentleman should. He is not acting with graciousness or in the spirit of an American who has the people's best interest at heart. It causes me to feel shame.

    March 10, 2009 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  8. Vigla

    Julie,
    Obama was elected, obviously people wanted this change. Your claim is utter nonsense...

    March 10, 2009 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  9. Stuart

    @MN Voter – "Because the original results that triggered the re-count were just general, unreviewed results." That can't be true, otherwise the initial count could never be relied upon if it is just general. If there was a wide margin of victory, then a recount would not have occured and the decision would be based on general results. Also, no judges had a say yet if a ballot was valid or not; only election officials and campain representatives determined if a vote was valid. The votes Coleman is sueing over can include ones his campaign representatives thought was valid, but the opposing campaign said was not valid. The way to get the most accurate recount for this election is to recount again to see if the results matched the first recount, or if more votes went missing again, like it did from the initial results.

    March 10, 2009 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  10. Eileen

    This is ridiculous. It's just blatant political obstruction at this point. Franken won, seat him.

    March 10, 2009 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  11. MrManhattan

    This really makes me wonder that maybe if Gore was as unpatriotic as Coleman, we would have energy independence, a stable economy and two WTC buildings still standing now.

    March 10, 2009 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  12. rich

    Has this ever happened anywhere else? If so how long did it take to resolve and have one or the other chosen? In the end I think questioning the judges was a mistake that will ultimately be proven far greater than the election results.

    March 10, 2009 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  13. Joe from MN

    In response to MN voter, you obviously don't know what is going on concerning the lawsuit and the disputed recount. The issue is that, after the recount, in several counties there were more ballots counted then there were voters! That means several ballots were counted twice. And on top of that, some election officials found ballots in their cars long after the first vote was tallied. Along with that, thousands of absentee ballots were rejected without ever being opened. I completely understand why Coleman is having this lawsuit! If Franken wins on an honest recount, then he should go to Capital Hill and represent MN. But if the recount was done in error, which it appears to be, Norm Coleman should be our MN Senator.

    March 10, 2009 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  14. Little too late????

    We could only hope it is a freight train and he is playing on the tracks!!!

    March 10, 2009 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  15. ctheiss

    calling Franken a "progressive" is misleading... he is a radical liberal

    March 10, 2009 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  16. jay

    DO we really want a Senate where issues are not vetted? We have a President who wasn't vetted, and we are on the verge of a socialist state. Just what we need, a nanny state of 320 million, where only 200 million pay taxes. Sweet

    March 10, 2009 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  17. maurice from ontario

    How many lakes are there in Minnesota? One for every excuse Coleman and his cronies can find to delay the inevitable. This is outrageous! And we thought Florida's system was flawed! How do you put a stick in the wheels of the Senate? You hold an election in Minnesota!

    You're not only affecting what happens in Minnesota, but you are also tampering with legislative action for the entire country.

    Coleman, what you're doing is truly pathetic. You are grovelling.

    March 10, 2009 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  18. Offended White Guy

    Are there not enough dead people in Minnesota to give Franken a decisive victory? Have all the cemeteries been registered? Oh, for the days of LBJ when whole towns - and their cemeteries - voted in alphabetical order.

    I say Minnesota deserves 1/2 senate representation for at least five more years.

    March 10, 2009 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  19. Geo1

    I think the people of Minnesota are so tired of Norm Coleman. I call him disgrace Norm Coleman and selfish Norm Coleman. He should withdraw his challenge and let Minnesota elected Senator gets to work. Hang in there Senator Coleman. The governor of Minnesota is also selfish and should be voted out for next election

    March 10, 2009 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  20. Tim

    Julie..... by "what Americans want" you me you and the people that think like you. You are appalled while i am not, therefore either I am not an American or I don't count because I don't think like you. Exactly the way the Bush administration worked. You must have been very happy during the last eight years living under your chosen one who almost but not quite made himself dictator. You have no clue what Americans want, but maybe the audacity to believe that we all want what you want. Well listen carefully and I will type slowly....WE DON'T!! regardless of what it is you think you want.

    March 10, 2009 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  21. Midwest

    I guess after this and President Gore in 2000, we need the UN to come into our county to monitor elections. How can we sell democracy to the rest of the world when we don't exactly have it right?

    March 10, 2009 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  22. Misery Missouri

    The DeFacto Leader of the Democratic Party. - He must be with the extremes they went to to get him elected. The best was the mysterious ballots found in the trunk of a car... a precinct that voted 100% for Franken... Hollywood wouldn't even write a script like that.

    March 10, 2009 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  23. Carl Justus

    Coleman is trying to repeat snatching of the will of the people like Bush did in Florida in 2000.
    Republicans cannot beleive everybody does not want them in the capital. They are bunch of cry babies who never grew up or had a mother and father that said no them and gave them every thing they want or cried for.
    I say they should make Coleman pay for all the lawyers, judges, court recoders, and all the utilities during the time he is wasting of the courts and efforts in this uncalled for delay of Franken taking his rightful seat in the senate.

    March 10, 2009 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  24. cee robin

    Seriously, You could take the brains of 10 republicans and stick them in Franken's thumb; that's how smart Mr. Franken is. He's a Harvard grad, an author, a politcal commentor and yes he is also a comedian...In other words, he's multi-talented...You might want to read some of his books. He's been talking for years about the Republicans and their greedy pals that put us in the spot we're in now...The Senate could use a 40 more like him! We should be so blessed!

    March 10, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  25. Bob in Detroit

    Julie you wrote:

    March 10th, 2009 5:54 pm ET

    "I don't know if I can take any more democrats in any office. I am shocked each and everyday and how Obama is changing America like he wants, not what Americans want."

    Not what America wants? Are you kidding me? President Obama was elected by a historic margin. The Republican party, their failed policies and biased platform was dealt a convincing defeat.

    How about giving the President, as well as Al Fraken a chance to fix the problems that the Bush Administration and Republican failures.

    Or you can simply stick to Republican principles and never see the light of day. G

    Good Luck Al

    March 10, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
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