Coleman, not Franken, puts Pawlenty in a jam


In today's Politico, there's a story that is supposed to make us feel terrible for Gov. Tim Pawlenty. We have to admit the guy is pretty screwed these days. As the Senate race still goes unresolved, there is mounting pressure from both sides of the aisle to get Pawlenty to adhere to their requests.

The Democrats want Pawlenty to seat Al Franken once the state rules in his favor. The Republicans want to continue their fight to the federal level and insist Minnesota has to wait until all legal efforts have been tried before any senator is seated.

So who can Pawlenty blame for the bind? It's definitely not Franken.

Politico's story doesn't really address who is to blame in this debacle, but the headline makes it pretty clear: "Franken puts Pawlenty in a jam". Really?

More from Politico:

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 loser before the Minnesota Supreme Court could seek a review from the U.S. Supreme Court or file a whole new case in U.S. District Court. Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has said that such a legal challenge could take "years" -- and that he's OK with that if that's what it takes to ensure that all of the votes have been counted.

Democrats accuse Coleman, Cornyn and other Republicans of stalling -- denying Minnesotans their second senator so as to deny Democrats their 59th vote in the Senate.

Unfortunately that headline is false. Franken allowed the automatic state recount to go forward as required by state law. The state canvassing board, which led the recount, found Franken the winner once the count was complete. Coleman could have conceded at that point, but chose to contest that decision to the three-judge panel. Coleman will once again lose this battle, but has chosen to continue fighting at the Minnesota Supreme Court and possibly the U.S. Supreme Court as well.

Franken is simply requesting to be seated after two different boards have determined him the winner in the race. Is that too much for him to ask? Can you really blame him for wanting to get to work?

If anything, blame Coleman, although you can't completely blame a politician for only thinking about himself. Coleman and Pawlenty are clearly in this for themselves and willing to do whatever it takes to keep their seats or reach higher office. Neither one would ever back down to help out the other. It's all a giant political game they got stuck in by their own choices in this race. Should anyone feel sorry for these guys? No way.