July 1st, 2009
04:30 PM ET
13 years ago

Minnesota joins ranks of longest Senate sagas

(CNN) - The Minnesota Supreme Court's decision Tuesday declaring Democrat Al Franken as the winner of that state's long-disputed U.S. Senate race ends a prolonged legal and political drama exactly 34 weeks, or 238 days, after the election was held in November 2008.

At the time the court released its ruling, the state's second U.S. Senate seat had gone unfilled since Republican Norm Coleman's term ended on January 3, 2009, for a total of 178 days. The seat will remain unfilled for several more days until Franken officially takes the oath of office next week, when Congress returns from the July 4 recess.

This is the longest a U.S. Senate seat has gone unfilled since 1975 and the fourth-longest period a Senate seat has gone unfilled since the direct election of senators began in 1913. Illinois holds the record for the longest unfilled senate seat, when it took two years to replace a senator who had died in office.

The longest vacancy due to a contested election was in 1975 in New Hampshire. That election was held in November 1974 but was not fully resolved for 10 months. After a prolonged and inconclusive recount, the seat was officially declared vacant on August 8, 1975, at which point a temporary senator was appointed to fill the seat. A special election was held on September 16, 1975, and the winner took office on September 18, 1975.

A list of the longest Senate seat vacancies is after the jump

Senate Seat               Total Days        Dates Unfilled
Illinois (1926-28)           726            Dec. 7, 1926 - Dec. 2, 1928
Alabama (1913-14)            276            Aug. 8, 1913 - May 11, 1914
New Hampshire (1975)         217            Jan. 3, 1975 - Aug. 8, 1975
Minnesota (2009)             178*           Jan. 3, 2009 - June 30, 2009
New York (1938)              169            June 17, 1938 - Dec. 3, 1938
Wisconsin (1917-18)          163            Oct. 21, 1917 - Apr. 2, 1918
North Dakota (1925)          145            June 22, 1925 - Nov. 14, 1925
Louisiana (1935-36)          143            Sept. 10, 1935 - Jan. 31, 1936
Arkansas (1937)              134            July 4, 1937 - Nov. 15, 1937
Oregon (1995-96)             128            Oct. 1, 1995 - Feb. 6, 1996
Wisconsin (1957)             118            May 2, 1957 - Aug. 28, 1957
Vermont (1923)               117            July 12, 1923 - Nov. 6, 1923

*As of June 30, 2009. the seat will technically remain vacant until Franken is sworn in.
Source: CNN, U.S. Senate Historical Office

Filed under: Al Franken • Minnesota
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. lovable liberal

    So, this one was the most-delayed after a conclusive recount. Ever. Thanks, GOP.

    July 1, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  2. PolakTom101

    No surprise Illinois is on top.
    Gotta love my state's politics.

    July 1, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  3. Fred the Moderate

    colmen knew from the begining he didn't have a chance, tried to get Franken to conced for the good of the state, then pushes a no win situation this long, I guess for the good of the state.

    He's out for the good of the state and the state can't thank him enough!

    July 1, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  4. Samuel

    The People's Republic of Minnesota finally seats the porn king! How can a state be so stupid. Ventura and now porn man.

    July 1, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  5. gt

    minnesota deserve franken,,,, just look at the nut jobs they have elected.....to much snow,,,,to long winters ,,,,

    July 1, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  6. Diane

    Nice use of the word 'saga' in the context of the election in Minnesota, a state with a high concentration of people of Scandinavian descent!

    July 1, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  7. Math?

    I think someone dropped the ball on the math: 238 days isn't 41 weeks (it's 34).

    July 1, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    @ Robert, who said "Funny how people seem to overlook that Franken has a degree from Harvard in Political Science."

    That's ok...we're talking about people who call Obama a "community organizer" and completely ignore his 8 years of service in the Illinois State Senate (constituency of something like 200,000) as if it never happened, all while yammering endlessly about Palin's hardcore executive experience playing mayor of a podunk of approximately 6,000. So the answer is no, they'll never learn.

    July 1, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    BTW...repeat after me: "Congratulations, Justice Sotomayor"

    July 1, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  10. James M. Holmes

    Way to do nothing but obstruct GOP!

    What a bunch of losers... They got no new ideas, they don't care about the American people, they don't want to help fix this country's problems... they just cry and complain!

    So glad they are irrelevant... Barry Goldwater would be embarrassed if he saw what the GOP has become!

    July 1, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  11. Qoheleth

    "exactly 41 weeks, or 238 days"

    Someone needs to check their math. 238 days = 34 weeks.

    July 1, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  12. Republicans Suck

    Why do all Republican suck?

    July 1, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  13. howie

    WOW. I can not believe there are that many people in Minnesota who actually voted for this lug nut

    July 1, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  14. just look at the nut jobs they have elected

    got to disagree with you 'gt'

    Frankin will turn out to be very level headed, maybe not what YOU want, but probably very good for the country

    July 1, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  15. Capt. SNarKy

    I could give a rat's backside who won. Just trading one doofus for another as far as I'm concerned.

    July 1, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  16. bozo the obama

    Who cares about Al Freaken or Minnesota....SHAME, SHAME

    July 1, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  17. cali j

    You people from Minnesota can't keep a straight face and say you're glad that Franken is your Senator. This butt wipe air america failure is the guy that represents you?
    Just when I thought that you couldn't do worse than my state of California.
    When did America dumb down so badly? Party before country I guess.
    Good luck!

    July 1, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  18. Darth Vadik, CA

    Thank you sore loser Norm Coleman.

    July 1, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  19. Jon Krieger

    I Predict That Al Franken will be as successful a senator as he was a comedian on "snl" and as a liberal talk radio host!Oh wait a minute.........HE SUCKED AT BOTH THOSE JOBS!Congratulations Minnesota you are next to reap the benefits of this bo talent losers "experience"!You liberal idiots get what you deserve!

    July 1, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  20. Randall Munroe

    238 days is 34 weeks, not 41.

    July 1, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  21. annie against biased news

    The ones who lost the most in this election is Minnesota – hopefully they are smart enough to realize it. Problem is it affects all of us to some degree.

    July 1, 2009 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  22. johnnie

    yes the saga is over for republicans as well, the goose is cooked , its in the refrigerator,the eggs are cooling and the butter is gettig hard,an chick hearn quote, the ice age cometh for the party of doom. the wind is blowing them out to sea, set sail gop and go to devils island.

    July 1, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  23. WIlly Brown

    They got their azz hat now.

    July 1, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  24. Pragmatic

    ... and what excuses do the voters in SC have? The GOP doesn't even like the man they ran for the current Lt. Governor! When Karl Rove whispered that McCain fathered a black baby (a lie) the republicans all voted for bush ...

    July 1, 2009 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  25. dimes1

    Just shows how retarded the people of Minnesota are. They elected a pro wrestler as Governor and now a comedian as Senator. Maybe it would be best if they became part of Canada.

    July 1, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
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