March 13th, 2009
11:45 AM ET
9 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. cnnnewser

    This election has been dragged out long enough.
    It makes our country look ignorant when we can't run an election fairly and on time.
    Wake Up America...we're failing fast.

    March 13, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  2. Baze

    I think Franken and Coleman should put on gloves and settle this in the ring! 3:1 Stuart Smalley underdog!

    March 13, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  3. former republican

    Time for Coleman to throw in the towel. It was a foregone conclusion he'd lose this court battle. He knew it and all around knew it. Now he wants to drag it to the supreme court, which he will also lose.

    I feel bad for Minnesotans. But someone's got to draw the line here on the desperate attempt by National republicans to change the outcome here.

    March 13, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  4. Wayne, Greenville TX

    Norm Coleman should have conceded weeks ago. He's a sore loser, and from what I read he was a lousy Senator – following the GOP party line instead of serving for the benefit of the people of Minnesota.

    March 13, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  5. Kathy S. Cloughn

    Coleman stole the election last time because his opponent died. Now he is trying to do it again. None of the articles, by the way, mention that this was a three way race which had an impact on the numbers.


    March 13, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  6. Kathy S. Cloughn

    CNNNEWSER: you are wrong. The Minnesota government has been cited as one of the best. The problem is they are trying too hard to do it right. The Republicans brought in the attorney they used in Florida in 2000!!!!

    March 13, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  7. Unemployed

    With his frivilous lawsuit which seeks to overturn the will of the voters, Coleman has disgraced himself and his state. For that he should withdraw his lawsuit and respect the decision of the voters.

    March 13, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  8. Fillo

    Al Fraken was not funny on Saturday Night Live, he wasn't compelling enough as a radio talk show host to stay on the air without a whole lot of liberals funding him and now he proves that he's a loser when it comes to pollitics too. Somehow in the recount fraken ened up with more votes in some precincts than there were people who voted? This guy can't even cheat well. Al Franken is just a little man who is very angry and doesn't know what to do about it.

    March 13, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  9. sorry,I dont get paid to post

    Drip,drip drip,hows it feel republicans?

    March 13, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  10. MW

    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!

    March 13, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  11. fletc3her

    Minnesota will no longer have the reputation as being able to run competent elections. They join Florida, Ohio, and Washington on the list of shame. States that don't decide elections by voting, but rather by interminable litigation.

    March 13, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  12. KevinTexas

    This has gone on way too long. I have been a republican, independent and democrat in my life. But plain and simple, Mr. Coleman, YOU LOST! Go back home and spend time with your family. If the people in Minn don't like the new Senator they elected, they will get a chance to replace him, and guess what? Mr. Coleman, you are allowed to run again. So, let's end this and go to work.
    Mr. Coleman, you are part of the reason why so many of us left the republican party, myself included.
    If you ever want people to come back to the republicans, you need to change your behavior drasticly.
    Kevin in Texas

    March 13, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  13. Noell (fair minded conservative in Va)

    I really feel sorry for all the people of Minnesota. If the same rules applied for counting votes in all instances, it'd be considered a fair fight. Instead, some absentee votes were counted, some were not, two same situations resulted in two different ruling outcomes. Oh, and let's not forget the 133 or so votes that were found in the back of someone's car quite conveniently. Hmmm. Something is rotten in the state of Minnesota and it's not the landfill.

    March 13, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  14. Jamie

    Al Franken needs to say to Norm Coleman: I'm Senator Al Franken, and you're not

    March 13, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  15. bbech

    Whatever happened to losing with honor, and saving face?

    March 13, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  16. Tim from Coronado, Ca

    Regardless of who "wins" this one, there should be term limits on congress!

    March 13, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  17. patNY

    Perhaps Minnestoa may want to consider having a run-off election law where if one candidate doesn't get at least 50% of the votes, then there's an automatic run off between the top two candidates. This would've taken care of this entire mess since this race was originally a three way match.

    March 13, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  18. Rob

    Stuart Smalley will win

    March 13, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  19. bill

    While I understand the concept of a court challenge, surely the courts could expedite rulings in a case like this.The people of Minnesota deserve 2 senators representing them.Coleman and teh GOP are simply stalling to prevent the Dems from reaching 59.

    March 13, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  20. VB Lincoln Park NJ

    Welcome to the Senate, Al Franken!!!!!

    March 13, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  21. Tired

    I think that a requirement for winning a Senate race should be 50.1% of the total vote. A run-off between the 2 top vote getters should be conducted otherwise. There were over 400,000 votes cast for a 3rd candidate in Minnesota.

    March 13, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  22. jfs Memhis, Tn

    Unfortunately, when the courts get involved with an election.......NO ONE WINS !!! Coleman's folks were there at the recounts as were Franken's. Coleman should have acknowledge the votes of the people and STOPPED this Political sideshow. He can run next time against AL......if he gets enough votes he will win.

    March 13, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  23. gt

    minnesota deserve this mess ,,, to allow sturat smalley to get this close show in a election ,,, come on people,,,, note to self ..cancel vacation plans to the land of a 1000 lakes ,,,,they havent learn much since jess ventura, was your gov, cabin fever plays mind games with you folks....

    March 13, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  24. Sandy

    Can't stand Al Franken. He's another on the list of actors and commedians that are trying to go into politics – because it worked so well for Jesse Ventura, Chuck Norris, Clint Eastwood, and the others. Maybe Mike Meyers can run next.

    March 13, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  25. That Other Jerry

    Poor Minnesota. The election process is such a tangled mess that no one will ever know for sure who actually got the most valid votes. And regardless of how the election is decided, you're stuck with either Norm Coleman or Al Franken. Talk about your no-win situations....

    March 13, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
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