Franken's Senate lead grows, legal battles loom

Chris Rizo Apr. 7, 2009, 9:29pm

Al Franken (D)

Norm Coleman (R)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (Legal Newsline)-It is unlikely that the Minnesota Supreme Court has heard the last argument in the protracted election lawsuit between Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken who are vying for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

On Tuesday, yet another ballot count gave Franken an edge. This time, he had a 312 vote lead over 59-year-old Coleman, the incumbent. The count was of 351 of 387 previously rejected absentee ballots. Forty-two of the ballots went to other and third-party candidates.

Franken, the 57-year-old comedian-turned-politician, won the initial ballot recount in January by 225 votes. Coleman sued, contesting the results. His attorney said he will sue again.

"We will be appealing this to the Minnesota Supreme Court," said Coleman attorney Ben Ginsberg.

Political observers say the stakes are high for both the candidates and the partisan balance in the U.S. Senate since a Franken victory would give Democrats 59 seats in the upper house -- counting the two independents who caucus with the Democrats -- which is just one vote shy of the number needed to break Republican filibusters.

News of the recount results prompted U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., a member of the Democratic leadership team, to call on Coleman to concede. Meanwhile, some Senate Republicans, including John Cornyn of Texas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, say Coleman should appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

For his part, Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is considered to have national political aspirations, has said he will not certify the election until all the court challenges are resolved.

Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, a Democrat, said he will sign an election certificate after the state Supreme Court rules on Coleman's appeal.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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