You’ll be saying that before you say, “Minnesota’s Senator is [fill in the blank],” according to Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.  The preliminary numbers that he will submit today to the Canvassing Board shows Franken up 48 after the ballot challenges, but no one expects that number to remain static, and the board won’t resolve any of the open questions until 2009:

Minnesota voters won’t know who won the state’s U.S. Senate race this year, and it’s looking more likely that the new Congress will be sworn in before the race ends between Democrat Al Franken and Republican incumbent Norm Coleman.

The state Canvassing Board on Tuesday scheduled a Jan. 5 meeting and its chairman said the panel’s work could spill into Jan. 6 — the day the next Congress convenes.

Franken leads Coleman with an increasingly small number of ballots yet to consider. A draft report by the secretary of state’s office has Franken up by 48 votes. The board was meeting Tuesday to discuss that report, although corrections to it won’t be done until next week. …

Coleman’s campaign is disputing the allocation of some challenged ballots, which would add up to a 49 vote swing in the incumbent’s favor. Franken’s campaign has also brought some potential errors to the board’s attention, which it says amounts to 43 potential votes in the Democrat’s favor.

Coleman is also disputing some of the duplicate ballots, alleging that over 130 of them got mistakenly counted twice.  Duplicate ballots get created by precinct officials from absentee ballots that can’t get properly read by the optical-scan machines.  The officials in the precinct are supposed to label the duplicates so they don’t get tallied in a hand recount, which Coleman’s team says happened in this case.  The Supreme Court will rule on that today.

But that won’t end things, either.  Up to 1600 absentee ballots may get added into the count, depending on how the board structures the rules.  No one knows what those ballots hold, because they have remained sealed since arriving in the precincts.  It could take at least a week just to set the ground rules.

In other words, we’ll keep an eye on things, but don’t expect a resolution before 2009, and probably not until after the 111th Congress begins its session.

Update (AP): Coleman’s putting on a brave face but there’s a tinge of resignation in this:

“I feel fairly confident. In the end, the good Lord’s going to decide,” Coleman told the local Fox affiliate. “The numbers look good to us. Certainly there’s uncertainty. I’m not worried about it. I’ve done everything I can do. I’m not really agonizing about the outcome.”

Coleman went on: “Life goes on, regardless of what your job is. I certainly love what I do. If I can keep doing it, I’ll be thrilled, and if not, I’m sure we’ll do something else.”

Meanwhile, at Republican Pop, a look-in on what his opponent was up to in the early 80s.