January 2nd, 2009
01:30 PM ET
14 years ago

Senate GOP prepared to fight early Franken seat

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/02/art.getty.al.franken.jpg caption=" Democratic challenger Al Franken has a slight lead over Republican incumbent Norm Coleman in the race for the Minnesota Senate seat."]MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) – Sen. John Cornyn, the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is weighing in on Minnesota's close and still unresolved U.S. Senate race, saying Friday that no one should be seated until a winner is made official by both the Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Currently, Democratic challenger Al Franken holds a slight lead of about 50 votes over Republican incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman, but this number does not reflect what could be more than a thousand improperly rejected absentee ballots still to be tallied, which would sway results.

Cornyn, a Republican from the state of Texas, said a filibuster may be in order if Franken were seated before an official certificate is signed by Ritchie and Pawlenty.

"There will be no way that people on our side of the aisle will agree to seat any senator provisionally or otherwise," he told reporters on a conference call.

The new Congress will be sworn in Jan. 6, and it's unlikely a certificate would be signed by then. Speculation over what could happen in the interim included the possibility that the Democratically-controlled body would provisionally seat Franken if he remains in the lead.

"It is very clear that the people of Minnesota and the courts in Minnesota should make the decision about who won the Minnesota Senate election and not political leaders in Washington, DC."

The Coleman campaign is hoping the Minnesota Supreme Court will intervene over the issue of the improperly rejected absentee ballots because they say there is no uniform standard for local officials and the campaigns to review and count them.

It's also possible for an election contest to be filed after the Secretary of State certifies the results. The Coleman campaign has hinted at the increasing likelihood that they'd again go to the high court, which could mean a resolution would still be weeks away.

The secretary of states office is scheduled to tally improperly rejected absentee ballots this weekend and could have a result as early as Monday, though the meaning of any such result without a governor's signature remains to be seen.

Full story

soundoff (145 Responses)
  1. MikeH

    Episode I:

    Stewart Smalley goes to Washington.

    January 2, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  2. David Newport, OR

    Both parties should sit back and wait until it is official. Minnesota, Illinois, Alaska...it is better than the Comedy Cannel.

    January 2, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  3. Anna, Missouri

    The Republicans are going to refuse to seat a Democrat even if the state certifies the election, and yet they say that the Democrats can't refuse to seat a Democrat that has been appointed by an "alleged" criminal govenor? The hypocracy continues!

    January 2, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  4. Mike Sloane

    We are sooo broken! How can it take two month to do a count and a recount? Everybody in the world must be laughing at us, and rightly so.

    We need to fix this.

    Forget e-voting, that's even worse. No levers, no butterfly ballots, no hanging chads. We need a ballot with two names, two circles and a pen! And we need to stop doing twentyfive different elections on one day.

    I say spread it out!

    Have the congressional elections in October, the presidential elections in November and everything local in January. Or even better, move all of this to summer! Who came up with waiting in line for hours in freezing cold in the first place? Geniuses!

    Oh, and by the way, move elections to the weekend! Our system of electing our representatives is _still_ tilted toward the rich landowners, like it's 1777. And while where at _that_ we should get rid of the electoral college, it has no more purpose in a world where a TCP/IP packet can travel around the world in milliseconds!

    January 2, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  5. EW

    Why can the Democrats posting here have to resort to name-calling in order to try to prove their point?

    Our government is made up of a bunch of clowns that couldn't find their own arse with two hands, a flashlight and a road map...even after stopping to get directions. Nothing but a gaggle of clueless nitwits that could never understand what is going on with the people and their families. That goes for both sides.

    January 2, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  6. John from SC


    January 2, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  7. jaye

    The GOP cares nothing about our country – all they care about is winning and fighting and causing problems.
    That entire racist, troublemaking, bunch needs to be ousted from government.

    January 2, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  8. JHW

    "Bigotry in the Senate" incorrectly stated that Burris is a Republican; he is not, he is a Democrat who has actually participated in the Democratic primaries for governor a few times.

    There is plenty of room for differences of opinion without falsifying the clearly documented facts.

    January 2, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  9. southern progressive

    "Bigotry in the Senate"

    You really have no idea what you are talking about. Burris is not only a Democrat, but a major figure within the Illinois Democratic Party. In fact, at no point in his entire electoral career has he ever run as anything other than a Democrat. Before you jump out with accusations, maybe you should, I don't know, actually read about what you are trying to comment on.

    January 2, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  10. J.P.

    I love it. Talk about election fraud... if you don't like the results of an election, simply do what Al Franken does and recount, recount, recount until you manage to "win."

    Hey, lookie here what I found behind your ear... nope it's not a quarter, it's more votes for Franken!

    January 2, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  11. Joshua

    I am a native Minnesotan and I can tell you that Norm Coleman has a history of poor politics. He is a true career politician and will say and do ANYTHING to keep a job. Take a look at how he asked Franken to concede when the voting was clearly unfinished! That said, Minnesota should have never even let it get this close as Coleman is a whole lot like out worst president ever, George W. Bush.

    January 2, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  12. Rick-Former Minnesotan

    This Democrat think's Cornyn is right. Nobody gets seated until the votes are counted and a winner is certified. No jumping the gun.

    January 2, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  13. Bob, Monterey

    It just doesn't get much better than this: A professional comedian upsetting an incumbent republican U S Senator.......LOL!!! Happy New Year cons!!!!!!

    January 2, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  14. Micah

    It is easy to sit here and claim that one side is stealing the election – in reality, there is a lot of nonsense going on in this election – differing standards for counting one ballot vs. the next ballot, etc. The same nonsense was going on in Florida in 2000 until the Supreme Court stepped in and put a stop to it.

    Before you jump to conclusions about who is corrupt or stealing an election, do a little research into the discrepencies in how different ballots are treated. Otherwise, you come off as sounding shallow and reactionary.

    January 2, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  15. Ron Fellows

    First Jessie the body, then Al Franken, and now the inability to count. Minnesota has become a disgrace to this country. Im neither Dem or Repub, but if this States voters travel, its certainly on the short bus.

    January 2, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  16. Voter

    What hypocrites the Democratic "leadership" are. If Franken is seated, why not Burris???

    The truth is Burris is appointed by a sitting governor. If Illinois has a case against their governor, they get better get on the stick and bring that case. As of now, apparently they don't. As unattractive as Blagojevich is, he is A) the Governor of the "great" state Illinois, and B) Innocent until proven guilty.

    By contrast, no winner for either side has been declared by the "great minds" of Minnesota, so Franken has no business showing up in the halls of government. Unless, of course, he is accompanied by Coleman and they share a seat!

    I am a life long Dem, and these unseemly antics make me want to switch my registration. Harry Reid is AWFUL, and Pelosi has delusions of grandeur.

    January 2, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  17. Allen

    If anyone has enough hot air to sustain a fillibuster it's John Cornyn.

    January 2, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  18. Frank

    In most states, only the Secretary of State is required to certify election results. I wonder whether Minnesota differs in requiring the Governor to certify results as well?

    Or is the Republican minority in the Senate just trying to add requirements to what the law of Minnesota provides so that their party would have a veto over election results that they didn't like?

    Honestly don't know the answer. Just wondering.

    January 2, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  19. Al, NY

    To the absent minded Republicans who say a comedian cannot be a Senator.....Rep Fred (Gopher) Grandy from Iowa. Representative Sonny Bono of California. Two actors!!! Both on the GOP side. What do you have to say to that you hypocrites?

    January 2, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  20. Sye the Pychic

    I feel so sad for Norm,Mike Connell got killed before he could fix the vote.

    January 2, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  21. M Paul

    If you do the recount, republicans will always lose. If you do the recount of 2000, you know who will be the president (back dated). If you do the recount of 2008 presidential elections, McCain will lose Arizona, Georgia and West Virginia...

    January 2, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  22. Dave, Illinois

    I remember how many posters on these bloggs made fun of Georgia's election law that requires a run-off election if neither candidate gets a clear majority of the votes. Who's laughing now? The fairest solution is a run-off election. Franken would never go for this, though, because he knows that he would lose.

    January 2, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  23. Sam Reed of Texas

    John Cornyn wouldn't know fairness if it hit him in the face.

    January 2, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  24. Casey

    Republicans have nothing left to lose at this point - which is why they are simply at obstructing everything... it's all they have left until the Dems get a 60 vote majority.

    And THAT is why any question out there about a Democratic win that can be challenged IS being challenged, however lame the basis.

    When we will have mail-in voting? I don't think that the USPS could screw up elections any worse than what we've had in various states the past 3 election cycles, do you? Oregon has it; it works just fine and gives you all the time anyone should need to make your choices.

    Heck, let the Feds make a few cents on each mailed in ballot and we could create a special fund for printing up the ballots, etc.

    It's not rocket science, Congress.

    January 2, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  25. Richard

    Here's a test of intellectual honesty. Would you make the same comments if the situation involving the candidates was reversed?
    I think we need to put political biases aside in order to establish unbiased methods for establishing procedures no matter who or what circumstances are involved. That said, it has been my impression that Minnesota has established guidelines for recounting votes automatically when races are this tight, no matter who is ahead. Both candidates are obviously attempting to maximize their chances of winning .. this is only natural under the circumstances and I would suggest we not berate either candidate in their quest for a Senate seat, as long as their actions are legal and ethical.

    By the way, EW, I like the way you chide people for resorting to name-calling, then proceed discuss the "clowns" and the "gaggle of clueless nitwits" in our government. Satire can be such a healthy release.

    January 2, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
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