March 13th, 2009
11:45 AM ET
5 years ago

Minnesota Senate fight nears end

The Minnesota Senate fight could be nearing its end.
The Minnesota Senate fight could be nearing its end.

(CNN) - 129 days and counting.

That’s how long it’s been since Election Day 2008, and still no resolution in the last remaining undecided Congressional contest.

But today we could be moving a step closer to closure. Closing arguments are underway in a courthouse in St. Paul, Minnesota for the dispute between Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken over that state’s U.S. Senate seat. Lawyers for both candidates are summing up their cases and then it will fall to a three judge panel to decide a verdict.

Coleman, the freshman senator who’s seeking a second term, led Franken after Election Day by 215 votes out of nearly three million cast in the contest. That tiny margin triggered an automatic recount, which took nearly two months to complete. Franken, the progressive radio talk show host, comedian, and former cast member of “Saturday Night Live,” led by 225 votes after the statewide recount results were announced at the beginning of this year.

Coleman contested the results and took the case to court. The key issue in the proceedings is whether some rejected absentee ballots should have been included in the recount.

The verdict by the three judge panel may not mean the end to this long running saga. If Coleman loses the ruling, he could appeal to the Minnesota State Supreme Court. That could keep the seat vacant for quite some time to come.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has ruled out trying to seat Franken without certification by Minnesota's Republican governor and Democratic Secretary of State. An attempt by Senate Democrats to seat Franken without an election certificate and before all legal proceedings were settled would spark a 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.


Filed under: Al Franken • Norm Coleman
soundoff (121 Responses)
  1. Jessi H.

    I think Norm is related to Gary Busey. So it's really Busey versus Franken.

    March 13, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  2. hooperc

    Wally, what is a Demorat?

    March 13, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  3. Mike

    Hey MW who posted:
    Wow – those Republicans are all for Mom, Apple Pie, and Fair Play – AS LONG AS THEY WIN! But make it a fair fight – and their true cheating lying colors come out don't they – hey Normie – YOU LOST – GIVE IT UP!

    As I remember it, and being a voter from MN, Franken actually lost, THREE times. On election night, after the initial recount (which lasted only a day or so) and then a third time once the final tallies were taken and counted. It took a statewide recount, where several mysterious ballots showed up, in order for the real loser to win. And he hasn't won just yet.
    How do you honestly sit there and say this election is fraught with problems when more votes are counted than registered voters? Did you not see the new stories about convicted felons who were in prison on election day actually casting ballots for Democrats? And the Democrats want to cry foul every time a Republican does something wrong?
    Hypocricy is a sad sad thing to endure. Isn't that right Democrats?

    March 13, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  4. TLH

    We need to hurry up and seat Al Franken and work to get the Democrats to 60 in the Senate so that we can actually make some progress. The Democrats aren't perfect, but they're the only people looking out for regular working people. The only way that we're ever going to do anything about Health Care is if the Democrats have 60 votes in the Senate, the Republicans are 1) beholden to the insurance companies and pharmuceutical companies that have become rich off of tax payer backs due to Republican written government subsidies, and 2) simply don't believe in the government helping people (but they strongly believe in using tax payer dollars to subsidize big business.

    March 13, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  5. seebofubar

    Let Franken in already....we need another moron in politics in Minnesota. He's good enough and by gosh people like him........

    March 13, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  6. Work more

    Don't worry, if Franken wins he will have missed just as many days working as any of the other senators or representatives. What a job if you can get it. Work about half the year (how many days are they really in session), blame others for your mistakes (Dems/Repubs blame the banks when they pressed the banks to give more affordable housing to more people), spend more and more money that we don't have (earmark to research pig odors in Iowa). What a joke!

    March 13, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  7. Lenin

    Democrats stole a good one in the state of Minnesota. The state is a joke anyway and has been joke for awhile. These people can't help but elect clowns every once in a while with Jesse Ventura, and now Al Franken. Pretty sad state. The people of Minnesota deserve what they get. Freezing cold temperatures, bad sports teams and corrupt jokes posing as politicans.

    March 13, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  8. republicans hate america

    makes no difference if coleman ends up with the seat. the rush limbaugh party has been given a chance to participate in fixing our country but they have made it clear they want our country to fail so liberals will proceed to do the peoples work without them.

    March 13, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  9. James

    give up norm, jeez. It's over, you lost, let it go.

    March 13, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  10. John, Rochester MN

    Wally March 13th, 2009 4:17 pm ET
    More Demorat duplicity…
    Wasn't Hillary's battle cry, "Every citizens vote needs to be counted!"
    When its the desire of a candidate who is not a Demorat to have every vote count, Demorats have no tolerence.
    ---------------------------–
    Hey, that's some great revisionist history there. Look at the number of votes that Franken wanted thrown out and the number of votes Coleman wanted thrown out. I'm not going to put those numbers here, as it would be nice for right-wingers to start doing their own research before spouting off on an issue, but Coleman had a heck of a lot more he wanted thrown out than Franken did.
    Oh, and the "count until you win" thing is a bunch of crap, too. There was one recount. One. Just because they published the numbers each day doesn't mean they were doing multiple recounts.

    March 13, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  11. Gover

    Of all the ignorant comments made on all the many news sites I've seen, congratulations "Tom P" you've topped them all.

    This is the first time I've heard it suggested by anyone, even the absolute most ardent Democratic foe, that any state should remain without representation because a MINORITY political party is unhappy with the choice they've made.

    Maybe it's meaningless to you, but you branded this moment into my head for life: the day people started suggesting that "taxation without representation," the very crux of our country's founding, should be allowed as long as you don't approve of the representative chosen.

    March 13, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  12. Count My Vote

    Why aren't they counting absentee ballots that are dropped off at a polling place? Is that illegal now? Does going through the mail somehow validate the votes? The post office doesn't certify who dropped off a ballot any more than the poll workers, so this doesn't make any sense.

    March 13, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  13. Bubba

    Give them machetes and let them fight it out – to the death. No matter who wins, America will be better for it.
    Sandy, I find Franken tedious, but I notice that in order to influence the Dems he had to run for an office, while your party is apparently being run by a humorist with no elected office at all. I'll take the one NOT being run by a comedian, thanks.

    March 13, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  14. Polkovnik

    Does anyone remember the grace and patriotism with which Al Gore conceded to George W. Bush in 2000, so that our country might have continuity in leadership?
    Gore had a helluva lot better case than Coleman does, orders of magnitude better. This is not all about you, Senator, but about state and country. 'Bye Norm.

    March 13, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  15. debchuck

    Is not the real issue here the fact that the Republicans will do anything to have another seat in Congress? Sure, the margin of victory was narrow but this courtroom antic needs to stop. Over the last 20 years, we have seen Republicans do anything in the world to gain a seat in most elections. And, I am not a doting Democrat either so my comment is not political.

    Rather, my comment is that the Republicans need to crawl back under Bush's rock and stay there and stop pretending now that they really opposed Iraq and opposed torture and opposed the sinking og the U.S. Constitution... seems to me the chickens are just coming home to roost and Republicans everywhere are running wide-eyed scared.

    March 13, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  16. Nick

    The day after the election Coleman said, "lets end this, Franken should concede the election." Now that a recount has swung the vote in the total opposite direction, he and the right wingers want to "count the ballots" what about FL in 2000? Franken always said ballots should be counted and we should take the time. he still is saying lets make sure we get this right and so is the democratic party.

    Anyways, for a sitting senator to be this close means that he has lost. Incumbents will almost always win. Count the ballots, seat Franken and lets move on with the governing!

    March 13, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  17. Jay

    OMG!!!! Republicans you are the party of the PAST....Get over it..YOU LOST ANOTHER ONE!!!!!!!!!

    March 13, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  18. George Arlington, TX.

    Franken won, Lets hurry up and get him voting. The Republicans will stall because his vote will make a difference. The Republicans have created the problem we are in at this time, so one less is one less spouting useless ideas .

    March 13, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  19. Rebecca

    Yes, what ever happened with the "chad's" in Florida in 2000.
    Didn't hear a peep from the GOP then. Bushy/Chenille- got
    in, probably with the help of Bush-baby's brother Jeb Clampet.
    You Rush fans should try taking more Oxycontin, and you will
    forget all about the Senate race in Minnesota. We won this year,
    can't you ignorant Republicans handle a loss after 8 years of
    that Village Idiot and the Nazi (Cheney)?? Poor losers....Grow
    a brain!

    March 13, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  20. Greg in Dallas

    Senator Al Franken from the great state of Minnesota.

    Ahhh, I like the sound of that!

    March 13, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  21. Capsaicin

    All the comments talking about Minnesota's deceptive election are ridiculous. For the facts and not the spin see the month plus fully televised and blogged history at Minnesota website the Uptake.org. Minnesota had a balance of Republicans and Democrats involved in the recount and has set the new standard in careful, painstaking, and visible recounting that puts Florida and Ohio to shame.

    Like Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon, Minnesota recount folks have shown themselves to be definitely 'above average'.

    March 13, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
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