My friend Eric Black did a little digging when he read Politico’s story that Harry Reid might try seating Al Franken while the election contest process continued. Reid earlier backed away from a previous suggestion that he might do so when Senate Republicans vowed to bring the upper chamber to a halt. Since the numbers hadn’t changed since, Black’s skepticism was aroused — and vindicated:
But it made little sense to me, because Reid has long since learned that Senate Repubs are prepared to block the action at least until a certificate is issued. I wondered whether Reid had some indication that the Republican’s cloture-proof 41-member solidarity on the question had changed. I checked with Reid’s able spokester (and native Minnesotan) Jim Manley who confirmed that the stories were wrong, that Republicans are still in position to block any effort to seat Franken without a certificate and that no attempt would be made. …
As for the reference to April that Politico picked up, Reid said only that he was hopeful/optimistic that the court action would be done in April.
The Contest trial could conceivably end by then, but Coleman then has the right to appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court. Neither he nor his legal team have said anything definitive, but their recent public rhetoric would suggest they will make at least the first of those appeals. Gov. Tim Pawlenty has said that he doesn’t believe he can issue a certificate until the last appeal is resolved.
At this point, it makes little difference anyway. Had Jim Martin won in Georgia, Reid might have been emboldened to force Franken down the GOP’s throat, but Franken only gets him 59 seats anyway. Such an action might have alienated the Porkulus 3, whose cooperation makes that kind of maneuver unnecessary.
Reid can afford to wait it out. If the contest panel throws out the election altogether, though, he might change his mind — but that’s as big of a long shot as predicting a playoff appearance for the Detroit Lions next year.
Addendum: Eric writes for the center-left MinnPost after a long career in traditional journalism, last at the Star-Tribune as an editor. I’ve known Eric for a few years, and while he and I don’t agree on politics, he’s worth reading on a regular basis. He’s a gracious and generous friend who has often challenged and encouraged me, and his explicitly non-objective work is fairer than most of what we see from supposedly objective reporters.