Minnesota Recount: Franken retreats on challenges

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.