Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie made a couple of announcements today, one of which has Norm Coleman’s campaign hopping mad, and the other of which has to please them.  We’ll start with the good news.  Ritchie’s selection for the state canvassing board were released today, and it looks like balance won out:

  • Mark Ritchie, Secretary of State (DFL)
  • Eric Magnuson, State Supreme Court Chief Justice (Pawlenty appointee)
  • G. Barry Anderson, State Supreme Court Associate Justice (Pawlenty appointee)
  • Kathleen Gearin, Chief Judge, 2nd District (non-partisan election)
  • Edward J. Cleary, Assistant Chief Judge, 2nd District (Ventura appointee)

This looks like good news for Coleman.  Ritchie is a partisan, but so are most SoS officers around the country.  The lineup of judges don’t appear to favor any party, and all are respected jurists to the extent they’re known at all.  For a process that already has more than its share of anomalies, this looks like the closest thing to a fair shake we’ve yet seen.

Speaking of which, Ritchie went out of his way to accuse Coleman of playing politics in the complaints about the shifting vote totals:

The Democratic Secretary of State of Minnesota, Mark Ritchie, was just on MSNBC talking about the recount in the Minnesota Senate race between Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and Democrat Al Franken, and his comments will likely upset Coleman’s campaign.

Asked about the Coleman campaign’s criticism of the recanvassing process, Ritchie said: “Their goal is to win at any price. They’ve invested millions and millions of dollars. We consider this part of the normal political rhetoric,” said Ritchie. “We’re used to the political rhetoric being amped up. That’s part of their job — to win at any price.”

Well, no it’s not.  It’s their job to win legally.  Maybe Mark Ritchie thinks that politicians should win at any price, but that says more about Ritchie than it does about Coleman.  In fact, that statement may explain why Ritchie has remained silent while voting totals keep changing all over the state in Al Franken’s favor.  Apparently, the DFL Secretary of State believes in winning at any price, and sees that as his job.

The Coleman campaign released the following statement in response:

When the Coleman campaign raises legitimate ballot security concerns, over instances such as 32 new ballots appearing in the car of a Minneapolis city official, Mr. Ritchie goes on a national media campaign characterizing our actions as political.

His accusation today that our campaign intends to win ‘at any price’ is offensive, demands an apology and simply underscores our concerns about his ability to act as an unbiased official in this recount. His statement is not reflective of the objective, non-partisan standards Minnesotans expect and deserve, and which Mr. Ritchie as Secretary of State is sworn to uphold. And we are concerned about the pattern we are seeing.

As should be all Minnesotans.

Update: Maybe the Wall Street Journal also wants to “win at any price”?

When Minnesotans woke up last Wednesday, Republican Senator Norm Coleman led Mr. Franken by 725 votes. By that evening, he was ahead by only 477. As of yesterday, Mr. Coleman’s margin stood at 206. This lopsided bleeding of Republican votes is passing strange considering that the official recount hasn’t even begun.

The vanishing Coleman vote came during a week in which election officials are obliged to double-check their initial results. Minnesota is required to do these audits, and it isn’t unusual for officials to report that they transposed a number here or there. In a normal audit, these mistakes could be expected to cut both ways. Instead, nearly every “fix” has gone for Mr. Franken, in some cases under strange circumstances. …

Mr. Franken and fellow Democrats are already waging a full-scale public pressure campaign to help turn the recount their way. That includes a push to turn what should be a straightforward count of existing legal ballots into a complete do-over — mau-mauing election officials into accepting tossed ballots. The Franken campaign recently showed up before the Hennepin County canvassing board, demanding that its liberal members count 461 previously rejected ballots. To the board’s credit, they unanimously voted no.

But Ritchie doesn’t have a problem with Franken attempting to “win at any price”, apparently.

Update II: I’ll be discussing all of this with Hugh Hewitt at 5:30 pm CT.

Update III: If you’re wondering how you can help Coleman and keep the DFL from winning “at any price”, Amendment X of Savage Republican can help you contribute.