Decision Awaited in Franken-Coleman Election Contest

The state of Minnesota, and of course the netroots, are in a flurry of speculation today that the Minnesota Supreme Court may be preparing to hand down a ruling in the election contest between Norm Coleman and Al Franken. There is no news from the Court confirming the speculation that a verdict is imminent, but the hearing was more than two weeks ago, and Minnesota has been without its 2nd senator since January.

A report citing a Twitter post said that both Franken and Coleman flew to Washington, DC, yesterday, on the same flight. There is speculation they could be traveling there in order to take office immediately upon hearing the announcement that a verdict has been reached. Others speculate that Coleman seeks to use the federal courts to block Franken being seated as the 100th US Senator.

Several courts have already found that the existing vote-count for Minnesota’s 2008 US Senate race is complete and legitimate, handing a victory to challenger Al Franken by a razor-thin margin of just 312 votes. Norm Coleman has also been ordered to pay tens of thousands of dollars in Franken’s court costs. A coalition of progressive groups has already raised $167,400 from donors pledging $1 per day until Coleman gives up his fight to stop Franken being sworn in.

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The defection last month by Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, from the Republican to the Democratic party, gave the Democrats an effective majority of 59 votes (including two independents). Franken would be the 60th vote, which would enable a Democratic consensus to override any Republican attempt at a filibuster. In such a case, the White House would essentially only have to worry about wooing conservative Democrats to its cause.

Pres. Obama has expressed his aversion to using a 60-vote majority to force through legislation that could not pass by other means, but he has also been insistent that he will not allow dead-pan obstructionists to prevent meaningful reforms, which he has promised and which has majority backing in both houses of Congress. This situation means that either Franken or Coleman would become a far more pivotal member of the Senate, as attention would be shifted back to the president’s agenda and who is responsible for its passage or failure.

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