Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 4, 2009

MINNESOTA END GAME.... It certainly looks like the unresolved Senate race in Minnesota is over.

DFLer Al Franken won an impressive share Saturday of what may be the last ballots tallied in the U.S. Senate recount, boosting his unofficial lead over Sen. Norm Coleman to 225 votes heading into a Monday meeting where the state Canvassing Board will certify the final result of the race.

At least two things, however, still stand in the way of Franken becoming Minnesota's newest U.S. senator: the possibility of a ruling by the Minnesota Supreme Court that more wrongly rejected absentee ballots should be counted, and a legal contest that Coleman attorneys all but promised should Franken prevail.

It took only an hour Saturday afternoon for election officials to count 933 absentee ballots that all sides had agreed were wrongly rejected. Franken won 52 percent of them and Coleman captured 33 percent (the rest went to other candidates or cast no vote in the Senate race). It was a surprisingly muscular margin that was reflected in the glum looks of Coleman staffers and the satisfied appearance of Franken's staff.

Franken started the day with an unofficial lead of 49 votes. He achieved a net gain of 176 votes on Saturday.

The state Canvassing Board will meet tomorrow to, in all likelihood, certify the final result and declare Al Franken the senator-elect, just in time for the 111th Congress to convene on Tuesday

So, it's over, right? I'm afraid not.

Two months ago, Coleman, when he thought the vote tallies favored his re-election, announced that he would concede if he were losing. As he saw it, the day after the election, it was "important" for the "healing process" that voters not be put through a prolonged fight.

Now, however, on the eve of being declared the official loser of the race, Coleman and his attorneys are threatening to file as many lawsuits as necessary to challenge the official results, and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn of Texas has vowed to filibuster any effort to seat Franken, even after the state Canvassing Board declares him the winner.

This could go on for a while. So much for the "importance" of the "healing process."

Steve Benen 10:10 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (39)

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Comments

An excellent opportunity for Vice-President Biden to rule the filibuster unconstitutional.

Posted by: JMG on January 4, 2009 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

"Vice-President Biden?" Not until January 20th.

Posted by: KKT on January 4, 2009 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

Give me a break!!!

Coleman and Franken as well as Bush and Gore did, and will do, whatever is reasonable to try and win.

The answer is that no one can be sure who won in Florida or who won in Minnesota.

Of course, I do think it is absurd for one side to change its argument depending on whether they are winning or losing. However, any lawyer in the country can spin on a dime without a second's delay.

Don't pick on Coleman for being a sore loser. Just be glad Coleman is the loser. (at least I hope he is.)

Posted by: neil wilson on January 4, 2009 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

I have to agree with neil w -- yes, even about Florida. Nobody does know when an election is that close. (Of course, I am also glad that Franken is ahead.)

I am always tempted, when an election is this close, especially when a third party candidate has a major percentage of the vote. to prefer a run-off. (Mayne the trigger should be 'top two candidates within .01%, third party candidates getting over 2% of the total vote.)

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on January 4, 2009 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Win , lose, or draw, Coleman is still close to being indicted isn't he? Where is all that gone to?

Politics, in general, is a corrupt profession and those willingly engaging in that process have time and again shown just what type of person is drawn into the foray. More often than not. It makes one wonder just what the draw is, other than a lust and quest for wealth and power which ultimately leads to the losing of their souls in that quest.

Following these jerks and their tribulations is like an overindulgence of familial gatherings at Xmas. After about nine family get togethers one just becomes brain dead and would give anything to, as Monty Python said:"Run away!"...

Posted by: Stevio on January 4, 2009 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Coleman has "ethical issues;" Cornyn, being a devout obstructionist, knows that "ethical issues" are a prerequisite to being part of an obstructionist agenda.

But as for JMG's posting at 10:08, this shouldn't be about ruling the filibuster unconstitutional---it should be about making the obstructionists carry out their silly threats, and actually filibuster. Tell Cornym he can yammer on endlessly until he's unable to carry on, and THEN the issue can be voted on.

The filibuster should be legislated into a format whereby stupid crap like "reading the telephone book" is forbidden. A filibuster should be limited to discussion on the issue-in-question; if it isn't then the Constitutional Right of the People to proxy representation on the issue is denied, thus making the filibuster Unconstitutional---which is where Biden then needs to start waving a hangman's noose in Reid's direction....

Posted by: Steve W. on January 4, 2009 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

I've never heard such bullshit commentary in my life.You assholes should just lay down and quietly fade away. Waaaa all politicians are bad. Waaaa we can't count the votes its too complicated. Waaa the process is so mysterios. Good god you people are morons.

Posted by: Gandalf on January 4, 2009 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if Cornyn has support of other GOP Senators. If not, this is probably a signal to outside groups to start putting pressure on the other GOP members.

Posted by: CarlP on January 4, 2009 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

It's really quite simple: the Republicans want to monkeywrench Obama's economic recovery campaign. They can do it with their 41 votes, if the Democrats need more than one to break the filibuster. If it's 59-41 with all Senators present and voting, then there's a good chance one of the moderate 4 - Spector, snowe, Collins, McCain - would see the light about 2010 and vote to kill the filibuster. But if it's 58-41 and no chance the Democrats can produce #59, then they can hold the "mavericks."

Since it's important for Republicans to prove that "government is the problem," they have to proceed with this.

This is also why the Democrats will seat Burris, even if it does give the Republicans the chance to shamelessly go after them for "violating their own integrity." Proving further that jumping into a fight with a pig means you get covered in mud and the pig likes it.

Posted by: TCinLA on January 4, 2009 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

CarlP: "I wonder if Cornyn has the support of other senators..."

Anyone who doesn't see that this is all part of a grand Republican strategy they have worked out together to solidify their 41 votes and stymie Obama and the Democrats probably still believes in the tooth fairy.

They are the Party of Opposition. Which "good Republican" in their crew would one appeal to? Olympia Snowe, the supposed "moderate", who is all upset that Democrats weren't nice to her and tried to get her unelected (her excuse for why she'll vote with the Right as usual)?

Posted by: TCinLA on January 4, 2009 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Funny how Coleman thought Franken should spare Minnesotans the cost of the recount. And now that the money's been spent, he wants to spare them a second Senator.

Posted by: JoeW on January 4, 2009 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

How many recounts can anyone expect? If Coleman's supporters were supervising the recount, how can they insist it wasn't legitimate?

I agree that Republicans should be forced to filibuster - actually filibuster - rather than have the Democrats capitulate with each threat. Force the country to see what the Republican party is all about: obstruction except where they personally profit.

Posted by: jen f on January 4, 2009 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

I knew Coleman was in trouble when the election board decided to count the votes.

He should get over it.

Posted by: RZ on January 4, 2009 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Neil Wilson is completely wrong about not knowing who won the election in Minnesota, as the recount was very thorough, both sides got to participate, and ballots were examined with extreme care.

If he meant to say "nobody knows who should have won", then sure -- but that is the case with every election. An election is simply a statistical experiment in trying to determine the will of the people. Given the difficulty many people have in expressing their will, it should not surprise anybody that there's often a difficulty in determining just what the will of the people was.

In my home town, long ago, over the course of three local elections the electorate voted down three school board levy increases by large margins. Then some clever election board director wrote the proposition in such a way that a NO vote was for the levy, and it passed with a large margin. People complained, but, since the wording had been very clear, and it had been pointed out before the election, they had no leg to stand on.

Let's be clear: there will be no doubt, in Minnesota, who won the election. Yet Norm Coleman, that pathetic little hypocrite, will go to court to try and overturn the election results. His only hope is to disenfranchise some voters, which he will gladly do if he can thereby win.

Posted by: Charles on January 4, 2009 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Are the vituperations from the republican perspective an indication of the symptoms of a very serious mass defect in reasoning ? Or is it one of those simple frame overton bugs again ?

Posted by: FRP on January 4, 2009 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

How can anyone say we don't know the results of this election? Going into the recount, Coleman had an unofficial lead of about 220. Then every vote was manually recounted by an election official, both campaigns had the right to challenge any decision by those officials. The challenged votes went to a board made up of 2 Democrats, 2 Republicans and an independent. The state Supreme Court ordered that absentee ballots incorrectly not counted on election day should be included in the vote totals. The end result is Franken has an unofficial 225 vote lead right now. Tomorrow, it will be official.

We know Franken won the election. It was close, but he won.

Posted by: tomeck on January 4, 2009 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

A filibuster would continue the line of the Republicans' horrible decisions, so it would be lovely for all to see and discuss.

Posted by: Bob M on January 4, 2009 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

How can we be sure of anything in elections?

We found ballots that weren't there before. We lost ballots that we still can't find. Some people voted who shouldn't have. Some people were prevented from voting that should have been allowed.

Some ballots were marked incorrectly and counted incorrectly.

Granted, if Franken really is winning by over 200 votes then he probably did win. I would guess that Minnesota can get to within 100 votes of the actual number.

However, in a race this close, no one can ever be sure. After all, I bet everyone reading this post thinks that Gore won Florida even though he would have lost by about 300 votes if the recount had been allowed to continue.

Honestly, who here thinks that Bush won Florida????

Posted by: neil wilson on January 4, 2009 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

I am a little curious about the logic behind the position that says, "we really can't say who won the election because it was so close." I wonder if this is a misunderstanding of statistics: People are taught that there is a certain likelihood of sampling error when you try to predict the makeup of some group by polling a subset. The entire group is called the universe, and the subset is a sample of that universe. Statistics teachers like to point out that statistical sampling is a way of predicting the makeup of the "universe" without actually counting every single one.

Elections are different, because we count every single one. Al Franken's total is not a statistical projection of his actual vote count, it is his actual vote count, ie: the entire "universe" of his votes. By our rules, the one with the most votes wins, and Franken has more votes than Coleman.

It is possible to make some kind of argument that there is error in the actual process of counting, but that is a different sort of error, and it isw what recounts are for. It is also an unproductive argument in this case, because any of the proposed fixes would involve changing the rules after the fact. If people want to argue in favor of a system which requires a runoff for any election in which nobody gets a majority, then that is another issue.

By the way, has anyone noticed that this argument undercuts the standard prattle that "your vote counts, because winning by even one vote is winning." In this election, Al Franken wins by a margin that is as close to one vote as we are likely to see, and if the Republicans had gotten out another 300 votes they would be on the other side of this argument.

Posted by: Bob G on January 4, 2009 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

With "healing" as with "bipartisanship" -- it's all supposed to come from the Democratic side. Where are the pundits (to say nothing of the Democratic "leadership") calling for the Republicans to end their partisan bickering ?

Posted by: Pharaon Balanced on January 4, 2009 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Neil

We found ballots that weren't there before. What do you mean by that? Some 30 ballots were "found" and a lot of misinformation was put out about them being in some guy's trunk, but even Coleman's lawyer agreed they were legit.
We lost ballots that we still can't find. Some ballots are missing from one Minneapolis precinct. The Canvasing Board decided to accept the count taken on election night. So what's the problem here?

Some people voted who shouldn't have. Evidence please?

Some people were prevented from voting that should have been allowed. Again, evidence please?

Some ballots were marked incorrectly and counted incorrectly. See my remarks in my previous post.

Posted by: tomeck on January 4, 2009 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

I just want to correct one thing. While the canvassing board will meet tomorrow to declare the vote count final, they will not be certifying Al Franken as the winner.

According to Minnesota state law (and we are apparently unique in this respect), elections for Congress must be dually certified both by our SoS and Governor --- and neither the SoS nor the Governor can certify the result while the election is still under dispute. State law requires a 7-day waiting period after the count is final before the result can be certified.

So, Franken will be certified the winner on January 12 at the earliest, but only if no one (Coleman or possibly a Coleman voter) files an election challenge during that time.

The fun never ends!

Posted by: David Bailey on January 4, 2009 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

One would think, considering Coleman's legal problems, that he'd feel the need to focus on them rather than trying to delay the inevitable.

I suppose, though, he might think his legal problems would be easier to handle as a sitting US Senator rather than as a private citizen, and so this is a desperation play. Or he might just be focusing on this situation as an antidote to thinking about his impending indictment.

Posted by: Helena Montana on January 4, 2009 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK
boosting his unofficial lead over Sen. Norm Coleman to 225 votes
I believe that's "former Sen. Norm Coleman." I'm not taking a stand on whether Coleman has won or lost or should win or lose, but apparently the the six-year term that he began in January 2003 expired on January 3, 2009 -- at least according to Wikipedia, the "credibility" of which I usually take with copious grains of salt. Posted by: navamske on January 4, 2009 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

neil,

"After all, I bet everyone reading this post thinks that Gore won Florida even though he would have lost by about 300 votes if the recount had been allowed to continue."


That's only if the limited recount (of only undervotes) had continued. The most thorough after the fact count was done by the National Opinion Research Center. They looked at the overvotes as well as the undervotes, and found that under any realistic vote-counting standard, Gore would have won Florida if a recount of every ballot in the state had been completed.

Posted by: Lee on January 4, 2009 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Coleman's campaign is repeatedly claiming that Franken's 225-vote margin is an "artificial lead".

Like any other vote margin in either direction wouldn't be equally artificial.

Like elections, any elections, aren't equally artificial.

Man-made, y'know. Not occurring because of the inhuman laws of nature.

Posted by: Pyre on January 4, 2009 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

In any event, Minnesota and Florida prove that a single vote in a major election NEVER counts. I know you don't want to hear that but it is true nonetheless.

"Gore would have won Florida if a recount of every ballot in the state had been completed. " posted by Lee at 2:31.

I agree completely. Gore got more votes in Florida even after the butterfly ballots and stuff. The big problem is that Gore never asked for a state wide recount. He wanted to win so he asked for a recount in the counties he thought would give him the best chance of winning.

Personally, I think getting the right total is more important than winning but then if people listened to me then Gore would have won Florida and Franken would have won Minnesota. I like those outcomes so it makes me believe that counting votes is more important. If the elections went the other way then I might feel differently.

Posted by: neil wilson on January 4, 2009 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, Norm Coleman flipped on a promise? And in other shocking news, the Earth didn't crash into the sun today.

At least now we know why Coleman tried to pressure Franken into conceeding without a recount. I'm glad now Franken didn't take the bait. And of course, after his pleading to Franken to not "waste taxpayers' money" by going through a recount, now Coleman can't bunr enough if it holds a prayer of saving his ass.

That's our Norm! Classy to the end!

Posted by: gf120581 on January 4, 2009 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

They expected us to accept the results of 2000 as was, no questions asked.

Posted by: Neil B ☺ on January 4, 2009 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

According to a Minnesota relation of mine, a large percentage of people who voted for Barkley (?), a third party candidate, would have voted for Franken had Barkley not been on the ballot.

Go away, Norm, you lost.

Posted by: Go away Norm on January 4, 2009 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

"I've never heard such bullshit commentary in my life.You assholes should just lay down and quietly fade away. Waaaa all politicians are bad. Waaaa we can't count the votes its too complicated. Waaa the process is so mysterios. Good god you people are morons."
Posted by: Gandalf on January 4, 2009 at 10:46 AM

Who is this arrogant, contemptuous clown, and where does he get off projecting his moronitude onto others?

Posted by: Helena Montana on January 4, 2009 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

If Cornyn is going to filibuster a close vote in Minnesota, the Dems should filibuster the close vote in Kentucky.

But they don't have the cajones to do it.

Posted by: Ahcuah on January 4, 2009 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

I'm impressed with the patience of some people who want to explain to Neil Wilson something his cognitive dissonance simply doesn't allow.

As Senator Grassley explained the other day; given Obama's 80%+ favorably rating, it would be best for the GOP to obstruct less, and decide which policies to filibuster carefully.

Obviously Sen Cornyn feels that filibustering Al Franken's seating as the next Senator is VERY important.

I'd say... it's a battle the GOP probably will win by postponing it for a few months. Of course, as usual, the GOP does not comprehend it is also proof that they're loosing the battle of ideologies.

The more people get exposed to GOP tactics, the more they realize it is more of a disease than a political party.

Posted by: bruno on January 4, 2009 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, Bruno puts my name in BOLD.

Of course, I am too stupid to understand what he is saying.

Obama is popular. Grassley said so.

Cornyn thinks it is important to filibuster Franken.

The GOP will win by postponing things a few months.

The GOP is a disease.

Well, I am not sure what any of that has to do with me.

But thanks again for the BOLD NAME

Posted by: neil wilson on January 4, 2009 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Dems should just nuclear and vote to eliminate the filisbuster for seating senators.

Give um some of their own medcine.

Posted by: Cal Gal on January 4, 2009 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

If Cornyn is going to filibuster a close vote in Minnesota, the Dems should filibuster the close vote in Kentucky.

But they don't have the cajones to do it.

brilliant politics other than the small matter that no one is contesting the fact that mcconnell unfortunately won.

if franken is certified the winner and Cornyn wants to filibuster, let him; an obstructionist strategy is just fine, especially for the moderates like arlen specter who will have to face the voters -- and the consequences of inaction -- in 2010. there might not be a republican standing north of south carolina...

Posted by: mudwall jackson on January 4, 2009 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

WHen you concern troll, it is important that you passively make the point of the side you are secretly advocating. Lots of concern here.

Franken won Minnesota, and would have just blown away Coleman in a run-off. Democracy.

Gore won Florida. But concern trolls convinced him the truth was too painful

Posted by: Sparko on January 4, 2009 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

Minnesota Republicans would like Norm to prevail, but one of the most interesting phenomena of the recount period has been the lack of state leaders agressively backing Norm, especially hardcore conservatives.

Red Staters and other blog-haunting know-nothings are ginned up enough to bury the local papers with their Acorn/George Soros/liberals-are-stealing-the-elections claims, but conservative leaders here know what those folks don't. . . that a re-elected Norm would vote with the Dems as often as he could until the Obama honeymoon is over. I almost felt sorry for some of the true believers sweating over the recount, knowing that their treasured policies were going to be trashed no matter who won.

As for me, I will be petiioning the state legislature to make January 3, the date Norm ceased being our senator, a state holiday.

Posted by: Reid McLean on January 4, 2009 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK
I've never heard such bullshit commentary in my life.You assholes should just lay down and quietly fade away. Waaaa all politicians are bad. Waaaa we can't count the votes its too complicated. Waaa the process is so mysterios. Good god you people are morons. Posted by: Gandalf on January 4, 2009

Great mini-rant! Deserves being quoted.

Posted by: MarkH on January 5, 2009 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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