15 April 2009

Stewart Saves The Senate

Guess what happened yesterday. Give up? Yesterday, a three judge panel rejected Norm Coleman’s arguments and declared Al Franken the winner in the Minnesota Senatorial race. If you haven’t been keeping up with the saga, I guess you might be a little confused. So I am going to recap the story for you. Ready?

Ok, back in November when America was deciding who would be its next President, voters in Minnesota were also determining who would be their second Senator in Washington DC. They really didn’t have much of a choice if you ask me. Having to choose between the ineffective Norm Coleman and the inept Al Franken isn’t my idea of a great choice. Anyway, when the votes were counted November 4th, Coleman had a slim lead by less than 15% (about 447 votes); in Minnesota a result that close triggers and automatic recount. The first recount was done by the same machines that counted the first tallies and it came out again in a slim favor to Coleman. On November 19th Franken asked for a manual recount (asked, mind you, not sued for, asked) which was his legal right. That manual recount showed Franken that concluded January 5th actually held a slight lead so Coleman then sued for yet another recount, this time including 400 absentee ballots that were uncounted for some reason or another.

Now, I don’t know much about Minnesota’s election laws but I would bet it is safe to say the 400 absentee ballots probably did not conform to Minnesota’s rules for filling out and signing those ballots. So, the federal court appointed a three judge panel to review the ballots. The panel affirmed that Franken holds a 225 vote lead and, therefore, is the winner and the junior Senator from Minnesota…but wait, that’s not the end of it! Now Norm Coleman is threatening to sue and take it to the Minnesota Supreme Court! Why, do you ask? Well, to tell you the truth, I don’t know but it appears he may be hoping to pull off an unlikely victory much like “Shrub” did in 2000.

The way I read the timeline is like this: Coleman sued for a manual recount, the court recounted the ballots Coleman wanted, and the result was Franken extended his lead. So now Coleman is going to sue, again, even after the court ruled he is responsible for paying all of Franken’s legal bills along with his because he was the one who filed suit and lost. To me it sounds like a major case of sour grapes and reminds me of an adage I heard years ago, “Don’t ask the question if you aren’t prepared for the answer.”

In truth, well at least in my truth, Coleman is contesting this because the GOP is deathly afraid of Senate Democrats obtaining a filibuster-proof majority. In actuality, even if Franken eventually takes his seat, the majority will be at 59 seats, one short of the needed 60. Personally, I don’t care who ultimately wins but I do think Coleman should just cede the election and run again when the seat comes back up for election. He’ll probably win then because I don’t think Franken is going to do much in the Senate. I mean come on, does anybody really want Stewart Smalley in the Senate?

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