April 2, 2009

After the latest court ruling that heavily favors Al Franken in his election contest with Norm Coleman, it will now be up to Governor Pawlenty to issue a certificate to Franken.

Franken won big Tuesday when a three-judge panel allowed the review of no more than 400 absentee ballots in a race he currently leads by 225 votes. Coleman’s camp says an appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court is coming; once that’s done, the dispute lands in Pawlenty’s lap.

If Franken’s ahead at that point, Pawlenty will have a choice: sign the election certificate that will allow Democrats to seat Franken in the Senate or play to the Republicans whose support he’d need in 2012 by withholding the certificate while Coleman challenges the election in the federal court system.

“The Republican Party nationally and in Minnesota is playing not just with fire, but with dynamite,” said Rep. James L. Oberstar, a Democrat and the dean of Minnesota’s congressional delegation.

Oberstar — like a lot of Democrats — says November’s election should finally be over as soon as the Minnesota Supreme Court rules.

If Pawlenty and the Republicans push it further, he says, “this thing is going to blow up in their face.”

This whole thing makes Minnesota look like fools. Coleman should fold up his tent and let the voters have a representative. Pawlenty should do the honorable thing and issue the certificate so Franken can be seated. If Coleman takes it further so be it, but it could hurt his chances of continuing in Minny politics.

Cillizza notes:

The longer Coleman pushes out the legal fight over the 2008 election, the more he risks alienating Minnesota voters who have already begun to care less about the last race and are ready to move on with their lives.

All the way back in December, Survey USA conducted a poll in which 40 percent of the sample said that the candidate on the losing end of the recount (it hadn't been concluded at that point) should file a legal challenge to the results while 55 percent said the losing candidate should not challenge the results in court.

In mid-January, Research 2000 did a poll for the liberal Daily Kos Web site that showed that 34 percent of Minnesotans supported Coleman going forward with a legal challenge to the results while 47 percent opposed such a move. (Yes, we know that the poll was conducted for a liberal blog but Research 2000 is generally regarded as a reputable firm in the polling community.)

"There's definitely risk," said one senior Republican operative of Coleman's strategy. "Time is definitely a problem."

This is all about the Republicans trying to block Franken from getting to the Senate and adding another vote for the Democratic Party. And they need everyone they can get because it's clear that conservatives will just say "NO" to just about everything.

Once the recount is done and Franken is ahead, C&L will be pushing through an action directed at Gov. Pawlenty. Free Al Franken!

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