(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.