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."