ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) - The trial to resolve Minnesota's disputed U.S. Senate race may soon be over - but get ready for appeals, say attorneys involved in the case.
The three judge panel on Tuesday is reviewing and potentially counting nearly 400 absentee ballots that they decided last week should be added to the tally.
In the end, it could be disappointing news for former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, who had originally asked for 1,300 ballots to be added. Now Coleman - who brought forth the trial after Democratic challenger Al Franken came out ahead in the statewide recount by a mere 225 votes out of 3 million - will have a much smaller pool of votes to work with to overturn Franken's lead.
Even if the counting wraps up by the end of the day, there has been no indication by the judges when a final ruling in the case could come.
(CNN) - A Minnesota court Tuesday ordered the review of 400 absentee ballots in that state's still-disputed Senate race, a number that falls far short of the 1,300 absentee ballots Republican Norm Coleman says need to be counted.
The three-judge panel's ruling is a break for Democrat Al Franken, who currently holds a 225 vote lead over Coleman. Given the former SNL comedian's current lead, Coleman needs to capture nearly 80 percent of the 400 absentee ballots to erase his vote deficit.
The panel and officials from the Secretary of State's office will convene Tuesday, April 7 and open the ballots in open court.
Franken lawyer Marc Elias said he was "very pleased" with the order and felt fairly confident they would still remain on top.
Coleman attorney Ben Ginsberg said he was "disappointed" with the order and said the court was "wrong." He added they are more than likely to lose at the trial level and will appeal.
"It is pretty much of a long shot with that few ballots being put in play," Ginsberg said of their chances given the pool of only 400 votes that will be considered.
"The math is going to be very difficult for former Sen. Coleman and his legal team at this point."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A decision by the Federal Election Commission may ensure that the drawn-out Senate contest between Al Franken and Norm Coleman will not end any time soon.
The Federal Election Commission recently announced that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee can establish a recount fund to collect donations that will be used to cover expenses related to 2008 Minnesota senate recount and election contest.
The FEC decision allows the DSCC to raise $30,400 from individuals and $15,000 from multicandidate political committees during 2009. These new contributions are in addition to and separate from any other donations made to the DSCC for its overall efforts to support Democratic Senate candidates.
Attorneys for national Republicans submitted legal arguments to the FEC in support of the DSCC and the practical effect of the FEC's decision is to allow both parties to engage in separate, additional fundraising to cover the mounting costs of the Franken-Coleman battle.
MINNEAPOLIS, Minneapolis (CNN) - The same team that brought baseball fans the Larry Craig 'bobblefoot' doll has done it again, and this time at the expense of former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken who - more than four months after the election - are still caught up in a fight over Minnesota's U.S. Senate seat.
The St. Paul Saints have created "Count Von 'Re'Count," a bobble head doll with a body modeled after Sesame Street's Count Von Count, only this figurine features a head with two sides–turn it one way, it's Franken's face, and the other, you get Coleman.
According to a press release, "the head will spin, reminding fans of the dizzying experience that has been this state's U.S. Senate race."
"We realize that this was sort of a historical thing and we wanted to have a little bit of fun with it," said Saints' director of broadcast and media relations Sean Aronson. "Fortunately for us–or unfortunately, however you want to look at it–this has carried on a lot longer than anyone thought it would."
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) - Joe Freidberg, the heavyweight Minnesota criminal defense lawyer who's been at the helm of former Sen. Norm Coleman's trial to overturn Democrat Al Franken's win in the recount, said in radio interview that he thinks Franken will come out on top and added they'll be taking their case to the state's high court.
"I think that we've been trying this case with the appeal record in mind, and thats where we're going," Friedberg said in a Wednesday interview with KFAN, a Twin Cities-area sports station.
"It's going to be a very quick appeal," he added.
Asked if he was confident that the three judge panel would side with Franken at the trial stage, Friedberg said that was "probably correct," even adding that he thinks the former comedian and SNL star will remain ahead "probably by a little bit more" than he was after the recount.
Remember the election?
It was way back in November, but the state of Minnesota doesn't appear to be much closer to having a final winner in its contentious Senate race.
CNN's John Lisk talks to CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser about what happens - or doesn't happen - from here.
Listen to the latest CNN Radio Political Notebook:
(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.
WASHINGTON (CNN) –– Al Franken says a resolution is near in his marathon battle against Norm Coleman for the contested Senate seat from Minnesota.
Franken made his comments after meeting with Senate Democrats at their weekly luncheon on Capitol Hill. "What I did today was fill them in,” Franken told reporters he left his meeting with Senate Democrats. There's pretty much a light at the end of the tunnel so I kind of told them what was going to happen.”
His comments came 18 weeks after election day. For those of you keeping count, that's 126 days with no resolution.
Coleman, the Republican freshman senator from Minnesota, led Franken by 215 votes after Election Day, out of nearly three million ballots cast. That tiny margin triggered an automatic recount. Franken, the progressive radio host, comedian, and former Saturday Night Live star, led Coleman by 225 votes following the two month long recount.
Coleman contested the recount results, and a three-judge panel is currently considering which disputed ballots may be added to the recount. If Coleman loses the ruling, he could appeal to Minnesota's state Supreme Court.
(Updated with Coleman camp reaction after the jump)
(CNN) – Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele sent a letter to GOP supporters Tuesday asking for contributions to “stop liberal Democrat comedian Al Franken from stealing Norm Coleman’s U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota.”
“I’m no stranger to the gutter campaign tactics and shady legal maneuverings of the Left Wing,” Steele said in the letter. “They don’t fight fair, and they’ll stop at nothing to consolidate the power they crave. This outrageous power grab by Al Franken and Harry Reid must not stand.”
The nail-biting election between Coleman and Franken for the Minnesota senate seat was forced into a recount, which ended with a slim 225-vote lead for Franken. Coleman took the recount to court in January, alleging that thousands of ballots were improperly rejected. The judges overseeing the trail said the ballots were not legally cast under Minnesota law.
In his letter, Steele called the continuing Senate battle in Minnesota “unfinished business” for the GOP, and urged Republicans to contribute to Coleman’s recount fund. He also criticized President Obama’s “outrageous, pork-laden stimulus package” and said with Coleman in office, it would have been more difficult to pass the legislation.
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) - Republican Norm Coleman's attorneys Monday sent a letter to the three judges overseeing the election trial asking them to reconsider their game-changing ruling from Friday that put significant limits on the types of rejected absentee ballots they want examined.
The judges on Friday outlined about a dozen categories of ballots that should not be counted because they said those categories of ballots were not legally cast under Minnesota law. Those included ballots in which signatures didn't match, those submitted by non-registered voters or those inside a return envelope not signed by the voter.
But Coleman, who is seeking to add more rejected ballots to the recount of his November 4 race with Democrat Al Franken for a U.S. Senate seat, argued that not including all of about 4,800 ballots he wants re-examined was a matter of equal protection.
In their letter sent to the court Monday, Coleman's team is arguing that "likely thousands" of the ballots that had been sifted through during the recount process could have fallen under these now-taboo categories.