Tom Emmer's recount ship is sinking

Tom Emmer's Team Frivolous did the right thing Saturday, withdrawing almost 2,600 frivolous challenges to recounted ballots in Hennepin County.

On Sunday, the Great Withdrawal continued as they took similar action on the work of their overzealous troops in Renville and Dakota counties. And the State Canvassing Board is expected to spike even more frivolous Emmer challenges next week.

If you're just counting ballots, this race is over. Mark Dayton withdrew all his frivolous challenges last week; they were a drop in the ocean compared to Emmer's deluge. And Dayton still leads by an almost 9,000-vote margin.

Now it appears that Emmer's chances of salvaging his chances with a legal fight are also sinking by the hour. His first class passengers are abandoning ship.

Stan Hubbard, a major Republican donor who rules a broadcasting kingdom that includes KSTP-TV, told the Strib:

"It doesn't look too good, does it? I would think that Mr. Dayton is going to be governor."

Former congressman and current lobbyist Vin Weber:

"Let's not risk damage to the party's image unless there's a very substantial reason to do so."

John Gilmore, of the GOP central committee:

"Psychologically, we've all sort of moved into Governor Dayton."

Minnesota Business Partnership executive director Charlie Weaver:

"There's very little appetite for funding an effort that would be seen as futile."

Rep. Marty Seifert, whom Emmer beat in the Republican primary race for governor:

"I've had more than one donor tell me well, at least we're not going to have an all-Democratic state government."

What's left? Maybe another shot trying to challenge a decades-long accepted administrative rule for reconciling the number of voters and the number of votes cast in some precincts.

But a collection of legal experts interviewed by MPR said, collectively, that Emmer's pretty much done. William Mitchell College of Law Professor Raleigh Levine was one of them:

"In order to change a result where the vote difference is so enormous, he would really need to show systematic fraud or a mistake or another illegality and so far there's no indication of that."

Never the less, on Saturday, Emmer declared to a gathering of Republicans in Bloomington that, "We're not going away."

And state GOP chairman Tony Sutton, who famously groused right after Election Day that, "this is personal," insisted, "The governor's race is not over."

Increasingly, they sound like two men arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

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