On November 5th 2008, everyone knew that Senate Republicans were a shrinking minority. The question was by how much. By the end of November there were, for certain, 58 Democratic seats, 41 Republican seats and 1 yet to be decided; Al Franken vs. Norm Coleman for Minnesota Senator.
A recount process was set in motion, as required by Minnesota state law. The process was exhaustive, and largely transparent, thanks to streaming video provided by The Uptake. By January 5th, the Minnesota Canvassing Board had finished the recount and declared Franken the winner by 225 votes.
Coleman’s camp immediately filed a lawsuit claiming that some ballots during the two month recount process were counted twice (which has been disproved), and, that some 12,000 votes were improperly rejected (most were absentee ballots that did not meet 4 legal requirements). So far the Minnesota Election Contest Court has ruled that; 1. The majority of the 12,000 votes failed to pass the legal tests required, 2. There are only some 3500 votes that may or may not pass all four tests to be counted, 3. The burden of proof is on the Coleman campaign to prove that these votes should be counted individually, the court will not intervene as the ballots have already been inspected at least 2 times county and state election officials.
Even though Coleman’s case is weak, Minnesota law states that the necessary papers to seat the winner cannot be processed until all legal challenges are completed. This means that should Coleman lose his case in state court, the Coleman camp will appeal to the Supreme Court on “equal protection” grounds citing, wait for it, Bush v. Gore. Classic.
While the case is still in front of the Minnesota Election Contest Courts, the NRSC and individual Republican Senators have been holding frequent fundraisers for Coleman’s legal defense, and have raised some $5 million. Senate Republicans are scared to death that their irrelevance may become even greater with 59 Democrats in the body, even though Minortiy Leader McConnell agreed to a committee assignment schedule that reflects a 59:41 split.
Coleman, and his former Senate Republican colleagues are playing a game of “prolong the inevitable” by using every possible method they can to not allow Franken to get seated, including arguing that the election was invalid and there should be another one. The notion that one of their own got beat by a comedian/author that spent some 3 years on a syndicated liberal radio show making it known that he intended to move back to Minnesota for the explicit purpose of winning back Paul Wellstone’s seat is just killing them. In the mean time, the people of Minnesota have but one vote in the US Senate.
It all comes down to obstruction, pure and simple. The only real cards Senate and House Republicans have right now are obstruction and obfuscation. They’ve been playing these cards constantly over the past 4 weeks to try and derail anything that might be seen in the public eye as progress. In the process they have shown themselves to be anything and everything but the “party of ideas”. They’re fighting for what they perceive as “their lives”, in the process they’re killing their brand.
Doin’ a heckuva job guys, heckuva job!