Minnesota Recount: Franken retreats on challenges

posted at 11:03 am on December 2, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Al Franken’s campaign will withdraw “more than dozens” of ballot challenges over the next few days in an attempt to rid his portfolio of ridiculous challenges that never should have been included.  The retreat appears to come with the realization that Franken won’t win via the recount, as Norm Coleman’s lead has now risen to 340 votes according to a Star-Tribune tally.  With 92% of the votes recounted, the likelihood of victory has all but dissipated for Franken — at least through electoral means:

With the recount of Minnesota’s U.S. Senate race now 92 percent complete, the campaigns signaled Monday that they may soon withdraw some of the thousands of challenges they’ve made to disputed ballots.

The lead recount lawyer for DFLer Al Franken said the campaign would this week announce the withdrawal of “more than dozens” of challenges made on behalf of the candidate.

A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman countered later Monday, saying the senator’s campaign was “prepared to sit down with the Franken campaign to discuss how to reduce the number of frivolous ballot challenges.”

With the state Canvassing Board scheduled to meet in two weeks to finish the recount, and nearly 6,000 votes being challenged by the two campaigns, a Star Tribune tally late Monday showed that Coleman leads by 340 votes. Coleman had challenged 188 more votes than Franken.

Clearly, Franken hasn’t any other path to the Senate other than a Deus ex machina action from the Senate itself, or unprecedented intervention by the court into the electoral process.  The challenged ballots won’t help much, as both campaigns have challenged a like amount and the chances of a significant swing based on those challenges approaches zero.  Franken’s offer to withdraw some dozens or even hundreds of challenges really doesn’t mean much in that context.

Team Franken still openly talks about taking the challenge to the Senate itself.  We’ve discussed the potential fallout from such a move.  If the DFL wants to win future elections in Minnesota, sponsoring a rejection of the expressed will of Minnesotans seems like a bad way to do it.  Expect Republicans to use even an attempt to reverse the election through Senate fiat as a major theme not just in Minnesota but across the country in 2010.

Let the recount finish, and let the results speak for themselves.


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Finally! I can’t even imagine how these people come about dealing with this assinine result.

upinak on December 2, 2008 at 11:06 AM

Clearly, Franken hasn’t any other path to the Senate other than a Deus ex machina action from the Senate itself

Don’t underestimate the underhandedness of Harry Reid and the Dems’ ruthless hunger for their 60 seats.

chunderroad on December 2, 2008 at 11:09 AM

I’m amazed it was even that close.

Wait, no, I’m not amazed after the results of the POTUS results.

PBoilermaker on December 2, 2008 at 11:10 AM

I still haven’t seen a clear explanation of why the Senate can overturn the election result.

I understand it’s somewhere in the 17th Amendment, but apparently others see something there that I don’t see. Maybe you have to have a certain frame of mind while you read it. I don’t know. But I find this Senate threat really disturbing. If the Senate can overturn the Minnesota election, why the hell do we even bother with the charade of a vote?

Seriously.

jeff_from_mpls on December 2, 2008 at 11:10 AM

I guess Franken has already reached a deal with Reid to be seated, regardless of the vote.

Vashta.Nerada on December 2, 2008 at 11:11 AM

I’m amazed it was even that close.

Wait, no, I’m not amazed after the results of the POTUS results.

PBoilermaker on December 2, 2008 at 11:10 AM

Er, “allow myself to introduce…myself”.

PBoilermaker on December 2, 2008 at 11:11 AM

I still haven’t seen a clear explanation of why the Senate can overturn the election result.

jeff_from_mpls on December 2, 2008 at 11:10 AM

I recall that the house seated a dem election loser in the 1990s, so there is precedent.

Vashta.Nerada on December 2, 2008 at 11:12 AM

I’m amazed it was even that close.

Wait, no, I’m not amazed after the results of the POTUS results.

PBoilermaker on December 2, 2008 at 11:10 AM

I am still amazed. I understand people drinking the kool-aid and voting for Obama (I don’t agree of course). But FRANKEN? Seriously? This tax-dodging buffoon should have been trounced.

HawaiiLwyr on December 2, 2008 at 11:14 AM

Franken is trying to pull a Chavez.

grdred944 on December 2, 2008 at 11:15 AM

I recall that the house seated a dem election loser in the 1990s, so there is precedent.

Vashta.Nerada on December 2, 2008 at 11:12 AM

Maybe it’s just the post-holiday blues, but is anyone else as demoralized as I am over such nonchalant, cavalier talk about congress being able to tweak election results to suit its taste?

What the hell? Is this Russia, Danny? This isn’t Russia.

jeff_from_mpls on December 2, 2008 at 11:16 AM

It’s done… and Franken has lost…not going to overturn the election on a court case…sorry but that’s the fact…

NRA Lifer on December 2, 2008 at 11:19 AM

Obviously this just goes to show how divisive and messy elections are. Once Dear Leader gets into power, er, office, He’ll do something to make sure we don’t need to be bothered by these outmoded “elections” anymore.

rbj on December 2, 2008 at 11:20 AM

Minnesota Recount: Franken retreats on challenges

Yes, it is best for him to concede while he still has his dignity.

Tommy_G on December 2, 2008 at 11:21 AM

Now Franken wants to appear reasonable by withdrawing some of the frivolous challenges?
Remember that for Liberals,reality is an option, not mandatory. I can see him using this withdrawal as evidence that he and his team are acting fairly.
If he were acting fairly, he would have conceded weeks ago.
I know that this recount was automatic, but the threats to sue, the Deus ex machina Senate threat-those aren’t fair.
That the Senate could strip my vote from counting angers me.
With that said, Franken continues to live down to my expectations.

Doug on December 2, 2008 at 11:21 AM

I’m amazed it was even that close.

Wait, no, I’m not amazed after the results of the POTUS results.

PBoilermaker on December 2, 2008 at 11:10 AM

Well, lets look at the factors.

1. Minnesota, a liberal state, has a history of electing bafoons.

2. Has there been a more left leaning year in the history of the Union?

3. The media bias was, lets say, noticeable.

4. Did I mention this election was in Minnesota?

The only thing Frankin didn’t have working in his favor was that he wasn’t born in Kenya.

Syd B. on December 2, 2008 at 11:23 AM

I still haven’t seen a clear explanation of why the Senate can overturn the election result.

Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution states: “Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members…”

This is a given right to each House. There can be no appeal except at the ballot box.

Marking Time on December 2, 2008 at 11:24 AM

Al Franken: Go home. And stay there.

CP on December 2, 2008 at 11:25 AM

If the Dems are stupid enough to by fiat in the Senate overturn an election, there needs to be HELL to pay.

That would be an example to finally show to the people that it’s the democrat party that steals elections, cheats, defrauds and who are basically anti Democracy.

If the GOP can find it in it to do so, this could be the opportunity to take back at least the House (and gain some in the Senate) in 2010 and to finish the job by turning out The One in 2012.

I hope they are stupid enough to do it, or even TRY it.

wildcat84 on December 2, 2008 at 11:30 AM

I guess Franken has already reached a deal with Reid to be seated, regardless of the vote.

I doubt even Reid is stupid enough to do this. However… If it comes down to Franken being the one to give them that 60th vote, it wouldn’t surprise me if they try.

wildcat84 on December 2, 2008 at 11:32 AM

If I put myself on the ballot and even 50 people voted for me, it’d be a travesty.
–Al Franken, Interview with the Oregonian, Feb. 22, 1999

digitalintrigue on December 2, 2008 at 11:34 AM

Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution states: “Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members…”

Marking Time on December 2, 2008 at 11:24 AM

Thanks. At least I get the rationale now.

So when we were in charge in the early 2000s, we could have kicked Nancy Pelosi’s ass off the House Floor on the grounds that the voters of San Francisco, being deranged could not have formed a proper cognitive intention required to cast a valid vote, and the freaks couldn’t have done a damn thing to stop us? That’s basically Franken’s move. The intentions of the voters of Minnesota are insufficiently understood.

It’s The Lizard People from now on. This is just futility.

jeff_from_mpls on December 2, 2008 at 11:34 AM

Minnesota Recount: Franken retreats on challenges
Yes, it is best for him to concede while he still has his dignity.

Tommy_G on December 2, 2008 at 11:21 AM

Franken never had any dignity. Remember, he had to talk himself up in the mirror quite bit.

loudmouth883 on December 2, 2008 at 11:36 AM

I have to say I am mildly surprised.

I thought that this one was in the bag for Franken…

Way to go Norm!

joepub on December 2, 2008 at 11:37 AM

How long do we have to look at this reverse Elvis lip mug?

johnnyU on December 2, 2008 at 11:38 AM

George Soros was quoted as saying…………….

“Baaaaahhhhhh!”

Seven Percent Solution on December 2, 2008 at 11:38 AM

Tommy_G on December 2, 2008 at 11:21 AM

Sarcasm. That’s Sarcasm, right?

PappaMac on December 2, 2008 at 11:38 AM

Thanks. At least I get the rationale now.

So when we were in charge in the early 2000s, we could have kicked Nancy Pelosi’s ass off the House Floor on the grounds that the voters of San Francisco, being deranged could not have formed a proper cognitive intention required to cast a valid vote, and the freaks couldn’t have done a damn thing to stop us? That’s basically Franken’s move. The intentions of the voters of Minnesota are insufficiently understood.

It’s The Lizard People from now on. This is just futility.

jeff_from_mpls on December 2, 2008 at 11:34 AM

The difference is that conservatives believe in the will of the people whilst libs do not. It wouldn’t even occur to our side to do such a thing. Even stupid crazy freaks deserve the right to be represented in Congress.

Liberals believe that the “end justifies the means” when it comes to establishing their “worker’s paradise”.

wildcat84 on December 2, 2008 at 11:39 AM

Franken’s retreat (on number of frivolous challenges during the recount) is part of his preparation for going to court after the recount, on the issue of rejected absentee ballots that were for Franken. He and his lawyers will be trying to make the case, to a judge, that nothing they’ve tried so far has been frivolous…with a straight face.

RBMN on December 2, 2008 at 11:39 AM

Look on the bright side. The more abuse of power the democrats commit the easier it makes it in two years to get back the house and/or Senate. Most people now finally realize the Congress is controlled by democrats and once Bush is out the blame must surely fall where it belongs.

dpierson on December 2, 2008 at 11:40 AM

I doubt even Reid is stupid enough to do this. However… If it comes down to Franken being the one to give them that 60th vote, it wouldn’t surprise me if they try.

wildcat84 on December 2, 2008 at 11:32 AM

Reid? Stupid?

I think it’s on Drudge right now, in his remarks on the new Visitor Center Reid commented that he will no longer smell the tourists in the heat & humidity of Washington summers.

Really. He commented on the B.O. of the people he’s “representing.”

cs89 on December 2, 2008 at 11:42 AM

and once Bush is out the blame must surely fall where it belongs.

Uh, the blame will still be on Bush. “Boooooosh” is the boogeyman to the left, an all-purpose excuse for everything unpopular.

PBoilermaker on December 2, 2008 at 11:44 AM

Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution states: “Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members…”

Doesn’t the Seventeenth Amendment say that Senators from each state are elected by the people thereof? In the event of a recount, the official “judge” representing the people of Minnesota is the Minnesota Canvassing Board. Let THEM judge the contested ballots, add them to the uncontested ballots, and whoever has more votes is Senator from Minnesota for the next six years.

If the United States Senate had the right to overturn Senatorial election results, once a party got a majority in the Senate, they could simply “select” successors without bothering with elections, and establish a 100-seat monopoly on the Senate within six years, and no Cabinet picks or Supreme Court justices appointed by Presidents of the opposite party could ever be confirmed. The fact that this hasn’t happened since the 17th Amendment was passed (with several changes of majority party) shows that this is clearly unconstitutional.

Steve Z on December 2, 2008 at 11:52 AM

Maybe they’ll give him Hillary’s empty seat.

DarthBrooks on December 2, 2008 at 11:59 AM

Minnesota Recount: Franken retreats on challenges

Yes, it is best for him to concede while he still has his dignity.

Tommy_G on December 2, 2008 at 11:21 AM

Awesome…the ultimate sarc…

right2bright on December 2, 2008 at 12:03 PM

As a Democrat, I hope my favorite party does not get the 60 votes in the Senate. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. With a filibuster-proof majority the temptation will be too big to ram through stupid legislation instead of doing the hard work of seeking bipartisan compromise. Yes it would be nice to be king for two years but the retribution would be there at the next midterm election. Even with the 58 votes they now have, it will be difficult to avoid the fate of the Republicans in the 2002-2006 period. So, sorry Al, you gotta take one for the team.

factoid on December 2, 2008 at 12:07 PM

Don’t underestimate the underhandedness of Harry Reid and the Dems’ ruthless hunger for their 60 seats.

chunderroad on December 2, 2008 at 11:09 AM

at which time I will cease to pay income taxes.

Onager on December 2, 2008 at 12:12 PM

cs89–

Wow– Reid better be careful with insulting his constituents. He ought to look at what happened to Murtha after he called the people of PA racist rednecks!

Security Mom on December 2, 2008 at 12:12 PM

You know what’s really sad — even after all this nonsense with Coleman and Franken and the run-off election with Chambliss, we still don’t have a filibuster proof Senate because we all know there will be RINO defectors whenever it comes down to a fight over serious issues.

ramrocks on December 2, 2008 at 12:15 PM

I have a hard time visualizing how even someone like Harry Reid could be that hard up for power that he could stomach a loose cannon freak show like Franken running loose in the Senate.

pilamaye on December 2, 2008 at 12:16 PM

Concede with dignity? What a sad silly man. I will miss his opening skit on the Senate floor though.

Kuffar on December 2, 2008 at 12:22 PM

Gee… If you want to just hand the 2010 election to the Rs, then please go ahead.

Illinidiva on December 2, 2008 at 12:28 PM

Right now, without actually looking at the 5,952 challenged ballots, it’s hard to tell what is frivolous and what is legitimate. Relative to the certified count, which showed Coleman leading by 215 votes, Coleman has lost 2,373 votes and Franken has lost 2,498 votes, giving Coleman a 340-vote lead.

Coleman has challenged somewhat more ballots than Franken (Coleman 3,070 challenges, Franken 2,882). Since challenged ballots are not counted for either candidate, this caused both candidates to “lose” votes relative to the original count. If none of the challenges are upheld, and all the Franken-challenged ballots go to Coleman, and the Coleman-challenged votes go to Franken, Coleman picks up 2,882 -2,373 = 509 votes relative to the original count, Franken picks up 3,070 – 2,498 = 572 votes relative to the original count. This nets Franken 572 – 509 = 63 votes, not enough to overturn Coleman’s original 215-vote lead.

The question becomes, how many of Franken’s challenges are frivolous? If Franken made a large number of frivolous challenges, Coleman would have to make a roughly equal number of frivolous challenges just to stay even, because otherwise Franken’s challenges subtracted from Coleman’s total would make it APPEAR that Franken was winning the recount by 2,000-plus votes, and if the Canvassing Board overturned most of the challenges and gave Coleman the victory, it would APPEAR as if the Canvassing Board “fixed” the election for Coleman. For liberals, perception “is” reality, and giving the “perception” that Franken “won” is more important than his actually having the votes to win.

As things are, Coleman is winning the recount of unchallenged ballots by 215 – 63 = 152 votes as of now, and the recount with challenged ballots excluded (but not yet judged) by 340 votes. The only way Franken can win is if the supposedly impartial Canvassing Board finds a higher fraction of Coleman challenges to be frivolous than Franken challenges.

It’s possible that the Coleman campaign is aware of frivolous challenges by the Franken campaign, and is determined to make an equal number of challenges to avoid the APPEARANCE that the recount is swinging the election to Franken before the challenges are resolved.

Steve Z on December 2, 2008 at 12:49 PM

It would be an unbelievable stupid act for the Dems to overturn an election and seat Franken and it would probably hand the midterms to the republicans by a landslide. I don’t have much use for the Dems senate leadership but I don’t think that they are this stupid. I do think that Hillary is going to be at state because they were afraid that she would go after Reid’s position (and probably win).

duff65 on December 2, 2008 at 12:59 PM

Gee… If you want to just hand the 2010 election to the Rs, then please go ahead.

Illinidiva on December 2, 2008 at 12:28 PM

Don’t downplay the ability of the MSM to lull the electorate to sleep. The House stole a similar election in California back in the late 80′s early 90′s. There was no backlash, because nobody knew it happened. Outside the affected district there was no coverage. Even in the district, the man who stole the election won re-election handily, just two years later.

If Reid gives the seat to Franken, I doubt more than 10% of the public would even be aware that it happened.

MarkTheGreat on December 2, 2008 at 1:04 PM

Yes, it is best for him to concede while he still has his dignity.

Tommy_G on December 2, 2008 at 11:21 AM

You forgot the /sarc in that one……..

Jim708 on December 2, 2008 at 1:13 PM

Franken knows that he can’t pick up votes by using ballot challenges so he’s backing off on them. But after the recount is over he will go after the rejected absentee ballots that were never counted.He is not going to concede he is going to try to win in court.

jellybelly on December 2, 2008 at 1:31 PM

Ed, please take a look at the Minn. Sec. of State election site at
http://electionresults.sos.state.mn.us/20081104/SenateRecount.asp.

It’s showing Franken ahead of Coleman (perhaps an error)

Nov. 4 Ballots Cast for Norm Coleman 1103291
Nov. 4 Ballots Cast for Al Franken 1107528

Recounted Data Totals Percent
RECOUNT Number of Ballots for Coleman (as recounted) 1100922 41.37
RECOUNT Number of Ballots for Franken (as recounted) 1105030 41.52
RECOUNT Number of All Other Ballots (as recounted) 449235 16.88

RECOUNT COLEMAN and Other Ballots Challenged By FRANKEN 2876 0.11
RECOUNT FRANKEN and Other Ballots Challenged By COLEMAN 3067 0.12

jim m on December 2, 2008 at 1:36 PM

Expect Republicans to use even an attempt to reverse the election through Senate fiat as a major theme not just in Minnesota but across the country in 2010.

This would mean the Republicans would be running against the Tyrantocrats. It would be like Sir Wallace against Longshanks.

MB4 on December 2, 2008 at 1:37 PM

The ONE should send him to Pakistan to negotiate with the terrorists. I can hear it now, “Let me see if I get what you guys want, we must cede to you Mississippi, Alabama and a few more Red states plus implement our plan to have everyone convert to Islam in exchange for peace. I think Barry will go for that…”

DL13 on December 2, 2008 at 1:40 PM

Maybe they’ll give him Hillary’s empty seat.

DarthBrooks on December 2, 2008 at 11:59 AM

Now THAT would be funny!!!

Hey, he is really from NY after all.

Wonder if he needs any help packing his S#&t when he moves back.

Not that I’d give him any.

Unless help would include something involving drop-kicking his coin purse over his head.

BigWyo on December 2, 2008 at 2:11 PM

’m amazed it was even that close.

Wait, no, I’m not amazed after the results of the POTUS results.

PBoilermaker on December 2, 2008 at 11:10 AM

Don’t be amazed. Have you ever been to a big city in MN?
Those people are out of touch with reality.
Most city dwellers I have met are sadly out of touch-hence the POTUS results.
They get what they deserve. We get what we don’t deserve.

Badger40 on December 3, 2008 at 10:45 AM

Maybe they’ll give him Hillary’s empty seat.

DarthBrooks on December 2, 2008 at 11:59 AM

As a Minnesotan (at least, I now live in Minnesota), I have absolutely no objection to saying farewell to Franken.

Aronne on December 3, 2008 at 10:47 AM