It will be difficult, but you know it is the best thing to do for Minnesota. When you had a slim lead, you implored Al Franken to do the same, and when you were asked what you would do if the situation were reversed, you said, "I would step back."
You were right then, and it is right now.
The canvassing board certified the recount—a bipartisan canvassing board your campaign trusted from the onset. Everything was done cooperatively. On 95 percent of the ballots, the vote was unanimous.
The process was fair. Judgments balanced. Meetings transparent to all.
So please, step aside.
The history of this election will always be in dispute—elections this close inevitably are—but the longer it goes on, the more it will cost the state at a time when money is in short supply. It also keeps Minnesotans from mending the partisan divisions of a bitter and acrimonious election season. And it distracts from the important business of staying afloat during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Go now with grace. It's not the end. As former Gov. Arne Carlson told you: "There is no disgrace in losing."
Yes, there remain avenues available to keep up the fight, but now is not the time. Minnesota is losing half of our say in the Senate. There is no way to procure adequate provisions in federal bills with a single voice. We need two.
Senator Coleman, understand that we do not forget the many honorable things you accomplished. You had a knack for carving out provisions in Senate appropriations bills. You hauled millions back to our state.
And yes, you brought hockey back to Minnesota. While it became a punch line for liberal cynics, bringing back hockey restored a critical part of our culture. It resuscitated the soul of a community of people who grew up sliding across frozen lakes on steel blades. Thank you.
Senator Coleman, people tend to forget you are a moderate. Your speech at the Republican National Convention was full of optimism. Insiders peg you as one of the most liberal Republicans in the union.
But in this election, you were fighting against something bigger than Al Franken. You lost because of a political sea change. This election cycle was a horrid time for a Republican, especially a Republican who used his voice to support the invasion of Iraq. You chose a position, one that already rests on the wrong side of history. That choice cost plenty of Republicans their seats, fair or unfair as it may be.
As someone who once bravely protested the Vietnam War, you understand the political consequences of supporting an unpopular war.
Our current president once said the mood of the nation tends to swing like a pendulum. You caught that pendulum's arm at the apex of a conservative shift. It was good for a time. But now it has swung back to the center-left.
Recently, you admitted that the only reason the race was even close was because of your lackluster opponent, a celebrity prince coming back to carpetbag.
"I think any Democrat other than Franken would have been elected," you said. "A Minnesota-bred, traditional Democratic candidate probably could have waltzed into office in this cycle."
Please know we would write this same letter to Al Franken if the results were opposite. By no means is he a knight in shining armor—at best, he's a B-list comedian reborn as a talk-radio hack.
As someone who has also lost an election to Jesse Ventura—the only professional wrestler ever to serve as governor—this must be an especially bitter way to end your career in the Senate. They say you get the government you deserve, and maybe Minnesota will come to fully appreciate exactly what that means over the next six years.
But Franken won. So honor the vote. Honor a binding right of democracies. Honor it even if your opponent still appears more focused on Manhattan than Minnehaha.
This election will not end until one person steps down. You can be sure the vote leader won't. And it is now clear that, short of machinations by judges, Franken will emerge as the vote leader.
So again, with all due respect, we ask you to step aside. You admirably served Minnesota, but now is the time to end your service with dignity.
Exit with honor.