March 13th, 2009
11:45 AM ET
6 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. Marie

    Read it again Bev – Frankenstein would become the 59th vote

    March 13, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  2. Big Mike

    Coleman being the loyal Republican poodle he is, knows he has lost. All he is doiing is throwing up roadblock after roadblock to prevent the Dems from getting closer to the 60 votes needed to get the job done. Just throw Ron a biscuit and lets move on!

    March 13, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  3. phoenix86

    Here is an idea that I think all Americans except politicians can agree with:

    Keep Presidential term limits as is.
    Two six year terms limit for Senators
    6 two year term limits for representatives.

    No retirement or pension for politicians. This would avoid them moving from the House to the Senate and back again.

    Limits should be enacted retroactive to 2008.

    March 13, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  4. StevG

    The election will be settled just in time , for one or the other to run for
    their second term.

    March 13, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  5. Steve

    Debby–Pelosi is Speaker of the HOUSE, not the Senate.

    March 13, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  6. david Armendale, SF, CA

    Coleman proved himself a Bush loyalist during his term. The American people and the people of Minnesota rejected the Bush/Coleman method of doing things. Time for change.

    March 13, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  7. KDZB

    "Nice to see that the dems on this page are quick to proclaim the hack franken the winner, after a controverial recount, and ignore that coleman won on election night. you arrogance will be your down fall."

    Kinda like Al Gore won in 2000....your stupity has been your party's downfall....

    March 13, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  8. valwayne

    Coleman won, and Fraken stole the election through the courts and with the help of the corrupt Sec of State of MN. However, he clearly had a strategy to put himself over the top by hook or by crook, while Colman dithered around, and didn't seriously start combatting the fraud until it was almost, and maybe is too late. If the Republicans aren't more on the ball and continue to let themselves be outmaneuvered by ACORN and the Democrats, which is the same thing, in these close elections they deserve to lose. Besides I can't think of anything better for the Republican party overall than having Al Fraken becoming the Democratic Senate's poster Senator.

    March 13, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  9. frank tx

    franken won get over it and move on. ok

    March 13, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  10. David

    They are both two faced liars like ALL politicians are. If they are talking, they ARE lieing. The only way Minnesota can win is if both lose. In fact the only way for America to win is if they fly the next plane into congress while it's in session.

    March 13, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  11. Everyman

    Go back to SNL!

    March 13, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  12. Jeff

    I think both men won, LOL, let them share the seat, Coleman can play Senator Monday, Wednesday, and every other Friday; Franken can have it Tuesday, Thursday, and every other Friday. They can both claim to be Senator over the weekend for the fame!

    March 13, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  13. judesuper

    When Coleman thought he won, he opposed the recount. Now that Franken seems to have won fair and square, it's another story. What does it say about Coleman that a sitting senator gets beat out by a comedian? Not much. So get on with it. Seat Franken and run again next time. You are delaying the inevitable. And the rest of us want health care reform.

    March 13, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  14. Kevin Anders

    Why do people seem to think Frankenstein is clever or an insult? Dr. Frankstein was a brilliant scientist. His creation is what those who choose to use this phrase are referencing. Read a book. Sheesh.

    March 13, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  15. sick n tired of being a victim of Nazi CNN moderators

    As Peter Griffin would say " WOW Oh my god FINALLY phew what an ordeal "!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 13, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  16. judesuper

    When Coleman thought he won, he opposed the recount. Now that Franken seems to have won fair and square, it's another story. What does it say about Coleman that a sitting senator gets beat out by a comedian? Not much. So get on with it. Seat Franken and run again next time. You are delaying the inevitable. And the rest of us want health care reform.

    March 13, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  17. OGB

    Mr. Coleman,

    Please give up already. Your folks witnessed the recount, right? So, what's the problem? Must you be a senator at all cost? You probably wouldn't have become a senator in the first place if your opponent hadn't died in a plane crash. Pack it up already, so that Minnesotans could have equal representation with other states.

    March 13, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  18. sick n tired of being a victim of Nazi CNN moderators

    As Peter Griffin would say " WOW Oh my god FINALLY phew what an ordeal "!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 13, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  19. sick n tired of being a victim of Nazi CNN moderators

    As Peter Griffin would say " WOW Oh my god FINALLY phew what an ordeal "!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 13, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  20. roy

    all you idiots that say fraken won forget that coleman won the first count. do the election over.

    March 13, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  21. Dan in NC

    If we and Minnesotans are lucky, the court rule for Franken so persuasively that the Coleman camp will walk away, knowing they can't win on appeal.

    This has gone beyond absurdity. Bag it already, Norm. You're toast.

    March 13, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  22. Eyckie

    This has to end the officials in MN need to end it. Minnesota is not being properly represented in the Senate and those judges have the power and an obligation to make sure the people's business is moving forward. They need to get it done.

    I almost wish they had a re-election effort just so we could see Coleman going down in flames.

    March 13, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  23. Tim from Eugene OR.

    I still remember the Coleman telling Franken to just concede after he was barely ahead and declared himself the victor. Since the Republicans have no ideas, I can't wait until we have the 59th vote. I would feel embarrased to call myself a Republican, I would feel ashamed to call myself a part of "the base", and I would be going to hell if I hid behind the good Lords name to spew my bigotry. Enough already we are losing our country and if a republican actually had any good fresh ideas of how to get out of this mess they created, I would vote for one of them because I want our country to survive. Making the filthy rich richer is not the way to fix things.

    March 13, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  24. Gover

    At the start of this election I wanted to vote for (the 3rd party) Dean Barkley because Coleman is a slimeball and Franken is completely unqualified. Ironically, one of Barkley's favorite ideas was election reform and the switch to a ranked or instant run-off ballot which would have prevented this entire mess.

    In the end, I chose Franken, because I knew Obama would need every vote he could get to get his agenda past the Senate and I knew Franken would be a "yes-man" for him whereas Barkley would vote his belief on everything (sad state of affairs when you make that choice huh?) and I felt the national agenda was far more important than a local one this time around.

    Yet, as this recount has progressed, I have to say it's Franken who comes off as the calm, collected, rational candidate. He hasn't been shouting from the rooftops. He's been quite content to argue his case, under the law, and allow the process to run its course. Coleman on the other hand has proven conclusively that there is no position he wouldn't change and no hypocrisy he wouldn't utter to grab that power.

    First, Coleman used to be a Democrat. He flip-flopped on that. On election night, temporarily up a few votes, he called for Franken to concede, and blamed him for "dividing the state in this crucial time" or whatever even though state law, not a request from Franken prompted the recount. Then, he decried the cost of the recount and what a burden it would put on taxpayers in these troubled times. The second go behind in votes, he was calling for an entire new election at the tax-payers expense.

    Coleman will tell you your blue shirt is red, that your dog is a cat, and that that he's got 12 fingers if he thinks it would get your vote. If the winds change, he'll have a different story tomorrow. This guy hasn't taken a consistent position on a single issue in his entire life, not even which political party he's in.

    I mean, this was basically like the battle of Stalingrad – rational people wanted both to be destroyed but, for the time were in, I'll take the Russians (Franken) over the Germans (Coleman) since the Dutch (Barkley) had no chance.

    March 13, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  25. finally

    Coleman said months ago when he was in the lead that if he was in the position he is in right now, he would concede for the sake of the people. He is a liar and just a politician. He is not in politics for the people of Minnesota, he is in it for himself.

    March 13, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
1 2 3 4 5