Breaking: Say hello to Senator Al Franken; Update: Coleman concedes

posted at 2:35 pm on June 30, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

To no one’s great shock, the Minnesota Supreme Court has rejected Norm Coleman’s appeal of the election contest and awarded the Senate election to Al Franken.  The decision, expected last week, stated that Coleman failed to prove that recounting thousands of rejected ballots would have impacted the final results:

It is U.S. Sen. Al Franken.

The Minnesota Supreme Court today decided that Franken, a Democrat, won the highest number of votes in last year’s U.S. Senate race and deserves a signed election certificate.

The court said that Republican Norm Coleman didn’t prove that a lower court made mistakes requiring a rehearing of the case. Coleman had asked the court to order thousands of rejected absentee ballots counted. He had hoped the counting would allow him to overcome Franken’s 312-vote lead.

As I wrote before, the equal-protection argument Coleman used for this appeal had more chance of success in federal court rather than state court.  The state court kept itself to the issues of state law, rather than the more expansive federal issue of equal treatment of votes.  No one who followed the arguments at the court can be surprised by this decision, which was unanimous.

Coleman could push this into the federal courts, but he has yet to commit to doing so.  Tim Pawlenty indicated that he would follow the state Supreme Court’s direction in handling the election certificate, which means Franken will probably take his seat this week in the Senate.  If Coleman appeals to the federal court, he will have to also deal with Franken’s status as a seated Senator.

My guess — and this is just a guess — is that Coleman will call it a day.  We’ll soon see.

Update: Eric Black reports that the certificate was not specifically ordered.  Hmmm.  That gives Pawlenty an out, if he chooses to wait for a Coleman federal appeal.

Update II: Ignore my original update II.  ABC News sent out an old report, and I didn’t catch it at first.

Update III: Catching this via Twitter from Howard Kurtz — Norm Coleman has conceded.  He wants to focus on fishing more than the governor’s race for now, but I think he decided to stop now to preserve his viability within the state of Minnesota.  Probably not a bad decision for him personally.

Update IV: Coleman’s statement, as provided by his campaign:

“Ours is a government of laws, not men and women.  The Supreme Court of Minnesota has spoken and I respect its decision and will abide by the result.  It’s time for Minnesota to come together under the leaders it has chosen and move forward. I join all Minnesotans in congratulating our newest United States Senator – Al Franken.

“Just a few last words about my legal challenge.  Sure, I wanted to win.  Not just for myself but for my wonderful supporters and the important values I have always fought for.  I also thought it was important to stand up for enfranchising thousands of Minnesotans whose votes weren’t counted like the others were.  After all, issues and politicians come and go, but voting is fundamental.

“It is the essence of democracy so I knew we needed to do everything we could to get it right.

“I am forever grateful and humbled by the people of Minnesota who have given me the honor to represent them – and even more grateful for their wisdom, courage, patience and understanding over these past several months.

“The path that I take in the future is not nearly as important today as the path that we must now — all travel on together — to strengthen our state and our nation.

“I have never believed that my service is irreplaceable.  We have reached the point where further litigation damages the unity of our state, which is also fundamental.  In these tough times, we all need to focus on the future.  And the future today is we have a new United States Senator.

“I congratulate Al Franken and his victory in this election.  He now enjoys the advantage that our Congressional Delegation has over the other 525 people on Capitol Hill: he represents Minnesota.

“I know the great ideas, the amazing work ethic and the historic ability to come together to get things done in this state will help him greatly, as it has me.

“Speaking of which, I think we all should take a moment to thank Amy Klobuchar and her staff.  They have done a great job of carrying the burden of two Senators these last six months.  She is an extraordinary public servant.

“I don’t reach this point with any big regrets.  I ran the campaign I wanted.  I conducted the legal challenge I wanted.  And I have always believed you do the best you can and leave the results up to a higher authority.  I’m at peace with that.  As to my future plans, that’s a subject for another day.

“We live in a great country and a great state.  We can all have confidence that by some path we don’t yet know – one which we can all come together to lay out – we will arrive at the better future we all seek.

“Thank you and may God bless Minnesota and America.”


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