(CNN) - Lawyers for both Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken were grilled by the Minnesota state supreme court Monday, in a crucial hearing in the nearly seven month long post-election Senate seat battle between the candidates.
The justices on the state's highest court heard arguments on whether problems counting absentee ballots justify the reversal of a lower state court ruling that declared Franken, the former comedian and progressive radio talk show host, the winner by 312 votes over Coleman, the freshman senator whose term expired at the beginning of the year.
The court focused on claims by the Coleman camp that flaws in the counting over votes are serious enough to prevent Franken from winning the Senate seat. Coleman's asking for some 4,000 rejected absentee ballots to be counted.
The court has two options. They can confirm the lower court ruling that declared Franken the winner, or they can order more ballots to be counted, as Coleman argues. A ruling in favor of Coleman won't put him back in the Senate seat he used to hold, but it would extend his battle.
(CNN) - Nearly seven months after Election Day, the battle between Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken for a U.S. Senate seat from Minnesota heads to the state's Supreme Court.
But an eventual ruling by Minnesota's top court may not bring an end to one of the nation's longest-running election disputes in decades.
The justices on the state's highest court will hear arguments today on whether problems counting absentee ballots justify the reversal of a lower state court ruling that declared Franken, the former comedian and progressive radio talk show host, the winner by 312 votes over Coleman, the freshman senator whose term expired at the beginning of the year.
Coleman was ahead after election day on November 4, but he led Franken by just over 200 votes out of the nearly three million cast. That triggered an automatic recount. When that process was completed at the beginning of the year, it indicated that Franken led by a similar number of votes.
The Coleman camp quickly appealed that ruling to the state legal system.
Coleman wants the court to order that more than 4,000 absentee ballots that were rejected be counted.
(CNN) - The National Republican Senatorial Committee is picking up the tab on former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman's legal bills, to the tune of $750,000, a Republican official confirms to CNN.
Coleman remains locked in a months-long court battle with Democrat Al Franken, after the Election Day result failed to yield a clear winner. In April, a three-judge panel ruled Franken should be declared the winner with a margin of 312 votes, a ruling Coleman is appealing to the state's Supreme Court.
The $750,000 tab is no small check for the NRSC to write, which ended the first quarter of this year with $2.27 million cash on hand and $1 million in debt. But the organization remains firmly behind Coleman, who alone stands between Democrats and their hopes of achieving a 60-vote filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
NRSC Chairman John Cornyn has said Coleman's challenge could go through federal courts and take "years" to resolve. He also threatened "World War III" if Democrats try to seat Franken prematurely.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Arlen Specter's recent switch from Republican to Democrat appears to have caused him some confusion over party loyalty.
The Pennsylvania senator said he "misspoke" in an interview with the New York Times Tuesday when he voiced his support for GOP Sen. Norm Coleman, who is locked in a recount battle with Democratic challenger Al Franken in Minnesota.
"In the swirl of moving from one caucus to another, I have to get used to my new teammates," Specter told CQ Politics. "I'm ordinarily pretty correct in what I say. I've made a career of being precise. I conclusively misspoke."
Questioned about who he's supporting in elections Specter responded, "I'm looking for Democratic members. Nothing personal."
Specter's comments came after an interview with the Times in which the Pennsylvania senator declared he is rooting for a Coleman win in the hotly-contested Senate race. "There is still time for the Minnesota court to do justice and declare Norm Coleman the winner," he told the magazine.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Americans United for Change announced Thursday that they will release a new television ad calling for Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty to certify the results of the Senate race if Al Franken is declared the winner by the state's Supreme Court.
Republican Norm Coleman has made a last-ditch appeal to the state's Supreme Court to prevent certification of a Franken victory. Pawlenty, also a Republican, would have to sign a certificate to make the results official. In the ad, the liberal advocacy group questioned whether he would act in the "best interest of Minnesota, or his own national political ambitions."
Americans United for Change said the five-figure buy includes airtime in the Twin Cities and Rochester media markets. The spot will hit the airwaves Friday.
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) - While he waits to see whether the latest court ruling will allow him to take Minnesota's open seat in the Senate, Al Franken has been lying low.
Five months after a loss on Election Day, four months after he won in a recount, a week after prevailing in a tedious trial, the comedian and author might well be on his way to becoming the 59th Democrat in the United States Senate.
Even though that seat's incumbent, Republican Norm Coleman - now referred to as "former senator" - has appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court, Franken's campaign has done what it can to give the appearance that he's getting ready to take the seat when Coleman exhausts his challenges.
Since winning the recount, Franken has made a handful of visits to Washington and has met with majority leader Harry Reid to discuss Senate business, according to Franken aides.
And on Monday, he began hiring staff for a Senate office.
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) - Attorneys for Norm Coleman announced Monday afternoon they have filed an appeal seeking to overturn a District Court's decision that he lost his bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate last November.
The appeal, filed with the Minnesota Supreme Court, followed the lower court's ruling that Democrat Al Franken beat Coleman, a Republican.
"We do believe that the District Court got it wrong on the law and wrong because the Minnesota tradition and law are to enfranchise people, and their decision disenfranchises many Minnesotans whose votes have been wrongly rejected," said Coleman attorney Ben Ginsberg.
(CNN) - Five months after Election Day, the Democratic National Committee has a message for Republican Norm Coleman.
“Enough is enough,” a female voice says in a new DNC radio ad that is set to begin airing in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.
The release of the ad comes one day after a three-judge court in Minnesota ruled against Coleman in his post-election contest. Coleman filed a lawsuit in an effort to close a narrow lead Democrat Al Franken held after a recount in their razor-thin race Senate race. Coleman’s lawyer said Tuesday that the Republican plans to appeal the ruling to the state’s highest court.
The DNC ad encourages radio listeners to call Coleman – even providing his phone number - and tell him “to stop putting his political ambition ahead of what is right for Minnesota.”
“Al Franken won the election, the recount and now the legal challenge where his lead actually grew,” Tim Kaine, Democratic National Chairman and governor of Virginia.
“It's time for Norm Coleman to concede and for Al Franken to be sworn in as the next U.S. Senator from Minnesota.”
The new ad will air on news talk radio stations in the Twin Cities metro area, according to the DNC
Listen: 'Enough is enough,' DNC ad says
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) - A day after a much-awaited trial court ruling named Democrat Al Franken the winner of Minnesota's U.S. Senate race, an attorney for former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman said they still plan to appeal to the state's high court.
Coleman lawyer Ben Ginsberg emphasized the need for a full review of the ruling over the need for a speedy appeals process. "I would be surprised if it's before next week," he said. "I mean, we're reviewing the 65-page opinion, and I think we'll take time to be sure we review and frame the issues correctly before we file the notice."
The Coleman camp's arguments were shot down from just about every angle in the lower court's decision. But Ginsberg said he has confidence the Minnesota Supreme Court will see their case differently, and focus more on the equal protection argument Coleman had been pursuing all along.
He added that, based on what he's seen in the state Supreme Court's historical rulings, the high court justices will be more conscious of the "rights of voters."
ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) - A three-judge panel ruled Monday against Republican Norm Coleman in his dispute with Democrat Al Franken over who should be declared the winner of the U.S. Senate race in Minnesota.
The judges determined that "Franken is entitled to receive the certificate of election" after defeating Coleman by 312 votes.
Coleman has 10 days to appeal the 68-page ruling to the state Supreme Court.