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. jen

    Coleman and the Republicans would rather see the seat empty and Minnesotans unrepresented than let it be filled by the apparent, if narrow, winner because he is a Democrat. They are willing to litigate it to the ends of the earth (or at least Minnesota) to forestall the inevitable and preserve their ability to filibuster the Federal lawmaking process to a complete standstill. Let's you know what these Republicans really care about...

    March 13, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  2. Bridget

    Norm Coleman's tooth veneers look like Johnny Depp's in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory...wonder if he knows that.

    March 13, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  3. Greg

    This is not about BUSH, It is about the people and their votes, I have been to Iraq and back, just to find out our military vote don't count!!!!!
    that is just wrong, if you can not see that, then we are done, the USA will be the USSA.

    March 13, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  4. Kevin H

    Jen, first of all, your blanket statement about what "Republicans care about" is ludicrous – do you seen any Republicans outside of Minnesota talking about this issue? Second, if you were Coleman, you would fight in court to keep your job too. Third, if the shoe was on the other foot, and the Democrats were a minority in the house, didn't have the Whitehouse, and were trying to hold on to the 40 seats they need to be able to filibuster in the Senate, I guarantee you would be singing a different tune about a democrat challenger taking the recount to court.

    March 13, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |

    Isn't it time that we simply stripped the vote from the people of Florida & Minnesota for the good of the nation? Jesse Ventura? Norm Coleman? Al Franken? Please, just secede and join Canada. We won;t complain.

    March 13, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  6. dr

    Coleman won the first go around but then we read about all the chicanery and voila Franken wins. Keep counting till you win.

    March 13, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  7. Carolinabill

    While the recount process has dragged on for too long, it has been done with openess and parity. Ther will always be sniping from both parties, but the recount process has been professional and thorough. It's time for everyone to get over it and move on. I've yet to see any ot those making claims about one party "stealing the election" back it up with any proven evidence.

    March 13, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  8. Justin from New Haven, CT

    This is why we need IRV in elections.

    March 13, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  9. T in L.A.

    Clearly people seem split over this potential decision. Here are a couple of things to think about before throwing anyone into the fire:
    1. The election process, no matter how unfair, has to be legal and it is having its day in court
    2. For those that are against Al Franken, please allow me to remind you that Ronald Reagan was an actor and he became President of the United States
    3. For those against Coleman, please give him his day in court as well. Although I would like to have seen him accept defeat after the recount, I also support his move to enter the fight via the legal system
    4. Franken WOULD be only the 59th Dem in the Senate, 1 vote shy of a filibuster proof branch of gov't

    March 13, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  10. newbee

    America already thinks the US Congress is a joke so why not the comedian from MN? He fits right in spending $$$,$$$,$$$,$$$ of dollars.

    Hey, The joke is on YOU, I don't pay taxes!

    March 13, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  11. Bellybuster

    Count the military ballots afterall they are Americans. Moreso then you libs.......

    March 13, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  12. Kevin

    Funny how Republicans called Al Gore a "sore loser" back during the 2000 Florida post-election proceedings, but now they're willing to keep Minnesota's Senate seat vacant while they go thru every last legal proceeding in an effort to hold onto the seat.

    Seating Franken even though he may have lost doesn't hold a candle to Bush being given Florida by 1) his own brother and 2) campaign manager.

    March 13, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  13. ken

    How do you know which count is correct when they both differ significantly? Why should the recount stand when it didn't match the original count? What went wrong with the original count?

    March 13, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  14. paul

    Wow newbie you are so smart! You beat the man by not paying those taxes!!!!!!!! I mean admitting to a federal crime while on the internet where the government can track you IP address would be stupid but I am guessing you were smart enough to do it from a internet café. And it’s great you are not paying taxes I mean who would pay money to a government that pays its troops to fight and protect this country. You do love America!!!!

    March 13, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  15. Todd

    It sure has the appearance that the election officials kept finding votes during the recount until Franken had enough to win. What? Still down 100 votes? Oh, wait...I just found another box from a Democrat-heavy precinct.

    March 13, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  16. Robyn (Carlsbad, CA)

    You don't count ballots that are found in the back of a poll worker's car and how can you have more ballots than there are voters? There are some major problems with this vote recount. To even consider Franken as the winner is disgusting and wrong.

    March 13, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  17. Ohio Mike

    Coleman is making a fool of himself and his party. He should concede – not tomorrow or next month – he should concede today.

    March 13, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  18. Rick

    This is so great to watch all of you right wingnuts losing your minds and regurgitating any lie/talking point conservatives force feed you on talk radio. Pavlovian...

    March 13, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  19. Wally

    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.

    March 13, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  20. Tom P

    Does Minnesota really need to be represented anyway?

    March 13, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  21. jeffd

    SENATOR Al Franken. Love the sound of it!

    March 13, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  22. sim

    Wow. Norm, dude, those teeth. Please do your face next–you're scaring the kids.

    March 13, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  23. Larry Larson

    Like 2001 and people to Al Gore.....NOW to our ex-MN Senator lost so GET OVER IT!!

    March 13, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  24. Vinny

    God forbid that Franken should be given the Senate seat. He is so despicable that letting him into the Senate will lower the respect that Americans have for Congress even more. During the recount, in over 20 districts, there were more votes than people who voted (and almost every one of those votes were for Franken),there were boxes of votes "found" in the trunks of cars (again, almost all of them for Franken) and countless of other "irregularities" with the recount, all favoring Franken. I don't know how the people of Minnesota could live with the shame of having this clown represent them; it boggles the mind!

    March 13, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  25. Ron Bourgeois

    Kathy Cloghlin, you comment is totally off the mark. The Democrats in the 2002 elction replaced the deceased paul Wellstone with Walter Mondale (remember the previous Democratic presidential candidate and ex Minnesota Senator). Many in the Democratic Party wanted ex State Attorney General Allan Page NFL MVP anfd Hall of Fame) who likely would have one.

    Gee Kathy, the Democrats rejected a minority candidate for an old white guy who lost to Coleman. Get real lady and hold your venom.

    My concern is that Al Franken is a protectionist and Minnesota is one state whose economy (unlike a California) is very reliant on international trade.

    Finally, if you are so confident that Al really won, then what is wrong with a new ballot now that Obama is in office?

    March 13, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
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