Franken up 225 votes, Canvassing Board expected to certify vote count today

Welcome to 2009, folks! While the rest of the country celebrated a new year, workers for the Norm Coleman and Al Franken campaigns probably didn't even notice. They have been busy continuing their fight for Minnesota's open seat in the Senate as the recount wraps up.

The state Canvassing Board is expected to certify Franken's 225-vote lead today at their meeting, according to the Associated Press. But Franken isn't a winner yet. The board waits seven days before they produce an official election certificate in the race. If any lawsuits are filed, the certification would be conditional and could be put on hold. 

As of Saturday, Coleman is no longer a U.S. senator... for now. He could be getting his seat back, but for now Minnesota's second seat is empty. But does Franken look like a Senator just yet?

So what could happen in the coming days and what do party leaders have to say about it?


Could this tights-wearing rockstar be our new senator? It's looking increasingly probable.

Franken's unofficial lead jumped from 49 votes to 225 on Saturday when 933 absentee ballots that local officials and both campaigns agreed were wrongly rejected. More from the AP:

Coleman, who led Franken on election night, hasn't ruled out a lawsuit challenging the results, claiming there were irregularities that gave Franken an unfair advantage. 

The Coleman campaign also has a petition pending before the state Supreme Court to include 650 ballots that it says were improperly rejected but not forwarded by local officials to St. Paul for counting. The court has not said when it would rule in that case.

When Coleman was ahead shortly after Election Day, he said he would concede if he were behind. Will he follow his own advice? Doubtful. 

The Star Tribune says Coleman has several options if the Supreme Court doesn't accept the additional ballots Coleman wants counted.

If the court refuses to make the additional ballots available before a Canvassing Board decision, Coleman can file the lawsuit within days to seek to have them admitted. 

Knaak said the suit also could claim that as many as 150 ballots in DFL areas were counted twice and that the counting of some missing ballots inflated Franken's lead by another 46 votes.

The Republicans aren't happy and leaders say they won't let Franken take a seat in the Senate before any court challenges are finished, the Pioneer Press says.

Republicans would block any Democrat-led attempt to fill Republican Sen. Norm Coleman's seat while the outcome of the 2008 U.S. Senate race is in doubt, Sen. John Cornyn, the incoming head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said today. 

During a conference call with reporters, the Texas Republican said no GOP member would support such a move. 

While no Democrat has definitely said DFLer Al Franken should be anointed the winner, some have floated the idea of seating a senator provisionally. 

"This is a very, very serious matter," said Cornyn, who sat for eight years on the Texas Supreme Court. "I can assure you there will be no way that people on our side of the aisle will agree to seat a senator without a valid (election) certificate, provisionally or otherwise."

On the other side of the aisle, Democrats are quick to celebrate and encourage Coleman to just give it up. 

Pi Press:

New York Sen. Charles Schumer said there is no way former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, whose term expired Saturday, can find enough votes in an election lawsuit to turn the votes around. 

"Even if all the ballots Coleman claims were double counted or erroneously added were resolved in his favor, he still wouldn't have enough votes to win," Schumer said.

Talking Points Memo:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has called upon Norm Coleman to concede defeat in the Minnesota Senate race. Reid also reminded Coleman of his own calls early on in this process for Franken to concede and not waste taxpayer time and money: 

I believe that tomorrow the bipartisan state canvassing board will certify Al Franken the winner. After all, early on Senator Coleman criticized Al Franken for wanting a recount and wasting taxpayer money. I would hope now that it is clear he lost, that Senator Coleman follow his own advice and not subject the people of Minnesota to a costly legal battle.

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