Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 9, 2008

FRANKEN'S CHANCES IMPROVE.... Don't look now, but Al Franken may very well pull out a win in Minnesota. Norm Coleman isn't just getting nervous, he's getting litigious.

In a move that could be seen as a benefit to Democrat Al Franken, a Minnesota judge Saturday denied a request from incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman's campaign to block certain uncounted absentee ballots from being counted in a race separated by -- at latest tally -- just over 200 votes in Coleman's favor.

That slim margin has narrowed since the first tallies earlier in the week. In total, almost 3 million ballots were cast.

According to the court request, the Coleman campaign sought an "emergency temporary injunction" preventing election officials from unsealing, opening, or tallying any absentee ballots that were not inside an official ballot box by midnight election night.

A county judge in Minnesota turned down the request "for lack of jurisdiction."

At this point, the various factors are leaning in Franken's direction. The vote gap has narrowed considerably since Tuesday night, and given demographic considerations, a recount would likely benefit Franken far more than Coleman.

Noting the unsuccessful lawsuit, Josh Marshall noted, "I think Coleman's crew realizes that a full recount is not going to end well for them."

Steve Benen 10:04 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

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Yes, by all means, disenfranchise voters. What an admirable candidate for public service.

Posted by: Varecia on November 9, 2008 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry for being OT, but this gem from the NRO Corner should provide some Sunday morning amusement to the posters here:

Kathryn Lopez

Greetings from the high seas. I'll give Fred your love this morning. Thanks for the questions. We could officially go on for the length of ten cruises.

Even poor Fred does not deserve this.

Posted by: gregor on November 9, 2008 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

Even poor Fred does not deserve this.

Oh, yes, he does.

Posted by: Cervantes on November 9, 2008 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

I think getting your suit tossed for lack of jurisdiction is pretty embarassing.

Posted by: Casey Morris on November 9, 2008 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans only favor democracy when it works in their favor.

Posted by: Lew Scannon on November 9, 2008 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

Imagine that Franken and Begich both win. Then we're at 59 counting Lieberman.

Just imagine how unhappy Joe would be that there isn't one more Democratic seat.

Posted by: Bernard Yomtov on November 9, 2008 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

If Franken wins, will he do skits highlighting how spineless and clubby his fellow Senators are?

Posted by: jen f on November 9, 2008 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

before my focusing on the recent MN senatorial election I had no real idea as to how sleazy Coleman was ... sheesh ... the guy's such an unbelievable clown! Like his schtick of filing suit against his opponents a week before the election. Or the stunt of ending negative advertising three weeks before the election.

I also have to wonder: what's up with MN? I laud them for having elected Wellstone, but Jesse Ventura? Norm Coleman? Can someone explain the retardation here?

Posted by: sjw on November 9, 2008 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Then we're at 59 counting Lieberman.

And, though it's gonna be a tough fight, I think Saxby Chambliss can be taken down by Jim Martin, to reach 60.
Already, the Chambliss commercials on my cable (out of Chattanooga TN)(That's on the GA/TN border, for those who don't know) are 2:1 Chambliss:Martin.
The 'Fair Tax' has become an issue, and Martin still needs to get a killer ad that exposes it as the scam it is. One of it's proponents (indeed, wrote the book The Fair Tax with crazy congressman John Linder)is the odious Neil Boortz, based in Atlanta, and way too influential with his radio listeners. It's proponents take the line that "if you don't like the Fair Tax, you just don't understand it." Martin needs an ad that says "Saxby wants to replace the IRS with a bigger, more intrusive federal bureaucracy that wants every transaction, at any time, reported.."
Joe Lie-berman looks to be upset with the loss of the committee chair he used to keep the lid on Bush scandals...

Posted by: MR Bill on November 9, 2008 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

I hate to say it, but electing Martin in the runoff in Georgia will be exponentially more difficult if the Minnesota recount goes in Franken's favor and the Alaska early votes go for Begich. The Republicans will pull out all stops to ensure that Chambliss keeps his seat, and it will be all they have to focus on. On top of that, the third party Georgia candidate who is forcing the runoff is a Libertarian. It's gonna be hard to pull his votes into the D column.

I hope we get it, even if breaking the filibuster does require Joe Lie's help, but in a way I hope we don't, because I'd love to not have any excuse for keeping that douchebag in the caucus.

Also, I hope Norm Coleman does the right thing and withdraws from the race. I know he believes that national unity is much more important than his own political fortunes, and he said that if this thing was not going his way he'd withdraw. Or was that more bullshit from a lying Republican?

Posted by: Singularity on November 9, 2008 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

I you have any cash left send it to Martin, Franken and Begich. If you live in GA, can phonebank from out of state or can get there help Martin out.

If we get to 59 or 60 let's see who wants to come over and join us first. Lieberman? Specter? Martinez? Collins? Snowe? Lugar? Grassley? Voinovich? Thune? On any number of issues the above will side with us. Specter, Grassley, Voinovich, Martinez, Thune are all up for re-election in 2010 and if they choose to run they oppose the will of the people at their peril.

Posted by: markg8 on November 9, 2008 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

So, sad that voters in Georgia believed Saxby looked more like a Solon from Central Casting - Why, that other fellow had such baggy pants, eh?

But, in that Hollywood vein, would like to see Franken emulate his role in "Trading Places" and place Coleman into a gorilla's costume, put him in a cage with a live male gorilla and ship him back to the wilds.

Posted by: berttheclock on November 9, 2008 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Noting the unsuccessful lawsuit, Josh Marshall noted, "I think Coleman's crew realizes that a full recount is not going to end well for them."

Well, Norm, let's let the healing begin!

Posted by: John Henry on November 9, 2008 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Sounds like another Republican who needed to count on judges to side with him, or he'd lose the election. 2000 Presidential anyone?

Posted by: bruno on November 9, 2008 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Is there some Minnesota law that says absentee ballots have to be in the ballot box when the polls close on election day?

In Alaska, the count is taking so long because mailed ballots have until Nov. 14th to arrive. In the Stevens/Begich race, they literally don't have all the votes in hand. And, as Begich likes to point out, his own vote won't be counted until next week, since he voted early at the polling place downstairs from his mayor's office.

Posted by: Grumpy on November 9, 2008 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

It's important for folks both inside and outside Minnesota not to get too excited about this, but all the post-election information supports a very good chance for Al. Norm and the GOP know this, and you will see them adopt a scorched-earth approach to each and every questionable or disputed ballot. Fortunately, the various parts of the court system in Minnesota that may be brought into play will likely be good and fair, and the Secretary of State is smart and unflappable.

Of course, while his staff and national Republicans will be do all the work, Norm will be try to stay above the fray, and will spend some of his time locking in a loss strategy. He's a classic player. Along with the ego boost from being a public figure, I suspect the endgame (corporate boards, equity position at a private company; figurehead law firm position, etc)
is what has been driving him all along. To him, public service is just a way to get attention and generate private benefit. He'll figure out a way to win if he loses, even if he gets dinged a bit by the financial irregularities alledged to have supported his political lifestyle.

Posted by: reidmc on November 9, 2008 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

I you have any cash left send it to Martin, Franken and Begich. -- Markg8, @11:33

Martin, yes. Franken and Begich not so much. Their campaigns are over (all bar the shouting), it's all down to counting of what's there. The only thing we can do for them is hold our breath until their states turn blue...

Martin, OTOH, has the campaigning and GOTV to do all over again, so he *does* need every bit of help he can get. In addition to the money for ads and mailings, he'll need as big a turnout as possible. And it'll be hard to mobilize, just four weeks after the heroic one in November.

Posted by: exlibra on November 9, 2008 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Having Franken in the Senate would be fun!

Posted by: Neil B on November 9, 2008 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

"Martin, yes. Franken and Begich not so much. Their campaigns are over (all bar the shouting), it's all down to counting of what's there"

That's about half true. Martin has a race to run, and I think he has a decent chance - a special election in December is going to depend almost entirely on which side turns out their voters more effectively. The Begich race will very probably be decided by the normal, but slow process of the AK vote count, and the numbers look good for Begich. And even if he loses, Stevens gets expelled from the Senate and then Begich should be the favorite to win a special election. But the Franken/Coleman race is going to a recount, and Franken is appealing for funds to ensure that paid Dem observers can be present at every stage of the hand recount. Money may make a difference there to deter any repeat of the Florida-2000 mess.

Posted by: Richard Cownie on November 9, 2008 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Richard (@ 20:32), for straightening me out on that one. So, given that after nearly two years the finances are rather strained (and there's still UNICEF and Doctors W/O Borders, and Amnesty International, and... and.. and...), I sent $25 to Martin and $15 to Franken (every little bit helps, one hopes).

A little bonus for contributing to Franken... You get a Franken Thank You *video*, on top of the usual Thank You e-mail notice. He says it's all up to us, 'cause Big Oil and other biggies ain't returnin' his calls.. Who'd'a thunk.... :)

Posted by: exlibra on November 9, 2008 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

Dear God, I am hesitant to ask for one more favor, considering that you answered all of the other ones on election day, but if you could just give that seat to Franken, I promise to go to Church and even Confession on the Sunday that follows.

Posted by: Patrick on November 10, 2008 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

sjw: Can someone explain the retardation here?

My brother, who lives in Minneapolis, tells me that Minnesotans are so repressed due to their Lutheran heritage that when they get the chance to anonymously act like jerks, they grab it with both hands. Witness Bachmann, Ventura, Coleman, etc.

As for Coleman, I wonder if he really wants to win because he knows that if he goes to Washington, there will be investigations into his financial behavior ($75,000 thru his wife, suits paid for at Neiman Marcus, cutrate apartment rent, etc.) that will put him on the highway wearing an orange jumpsuit while picking up trash ala Stevens.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on November 10, 2008 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Nate has a good analysis up at 538 today on the Franken/Coleman recount. Interesting point is that if you assume that the correctable ballots (i.e., ballots that registered an undervote or overvote but where the voter's intent is determinable) go 50/50, then Franken's chances are long. (Not surprisingly, right?) But if there's a 51-49 bias in Franken's favor -- and there are good reasons to think there might be (first time voters, minority voters, and low-income voters tend to have ballot problems disproportionately) -- then Franken's chances improve dramatically and he could even be the prohitibitve favorite depending on your assumption on correctable error rate.

Posted by: Glenn on November 10, 2008 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK



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