Recount trial: The Energizer Bunny of Senate races


Get used to having one Minnesota senator at the Capitol because this could take awhile. It just keeps going and going and going.

Add to that a new statement by Gov. Tim Pawlenty that suggests he might not sign an election certificate until all appeals are complete. That could include an appeal to the Minnesota and U.S. Supreme Court.

Norm Coleman's election trial is in its fifth week and his lawyers plan to finish up their arguments this week. Next up is Al Franken's team to defend their win and potentially add more favorable votes to the mix.

Pawlenty's comments over at Minnesota Public Radio:

"It's not a matter of what I want or don't want. It's a matter of what the law allows or prohibits," Pawlenty said. "If the matter is appealed, the lower court order will almost certainly be stayed in legal parlance, or what that means is held in abeyance, and so that doesn't have force and effect. It would be improper for me to sign the certificate under those circumstances. If they order me to sign the certificate and there's no appeal or there's no stay of that order, of course, I will follow the law, but I'm not going to sign a certificate until it's the legally appropriate thing to do."

Pawlenty added that he hopes the courts will give him guidance on when he can issue and sign the election certificate.

Pawlenty's interpretation of the law is important because the creation of the certificate begins in his office. State law requires the governor and the secretary of state to both sign the certificate declaring a winner and then send it to the U.S. Senate.

Experts who are currently analyzing the state's election laws believe the election certificate could be signed after the three-judge panel rules on the case unless one of the parties appeals to the Minnesota Supreme Court. Either way, Coleman's team suffered more setbacks Tuesday as the court ruled against some of their requests and upheld those they were fighting.

More from the Star Tribune:

Ballots that Norm Coleman wants to count took a beating in testimony on Tuesday, while ballots he thinks are illegal were protected by the judges hearing the U.S. Senate trial.

In the latest in a series of setbacks for Coleman, the three-judge panel refused to preserve identifying marks on counted absentee ballots that he claims have been rendered illegal by recent rulings of the court.

The decision hampers the ability of Coleman, a Republican, to challenge ballots tallied in the final phase of the recount, when DFL Al Franken took a 225-vote lead.

In rebuffing Coleman, the panel noted that he and Franken had agreed three weeks ago to allow the secretary of state to redact information identifying 933 absentee ballots approved by the state Canvassing Board on Jan. 5. Both campaigns had accepted those ballots, but Coleman last week said about 100 are invalid under the panel's recent rulings.

As if we should be shocked, Coleman is still playing senator just like Franken. He just doesn't want to be kicked out of the cool kid's club yet. Talking Points Memo reported that Coleman attended the Senate Republican Conference lunch meeting and also hung out with them during Inauguration Week. Who is going to break the news to him that he is no longer a senator? It's a tough, but someone has to do it.