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No joke: Franken still in the race

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 5, 2008

UPDATE 2:

U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman has claimed victory over Democrat Al Franken, but the comedian challenger says he'll wait for a recount before deciding whether to concede.

"This is a long election and it's going to be a little longer," Mr. Franken told reporters Wednesday.

Mr. Coleman said he won but added that he understood Mr. Franken's desire for a recount in such a tight race.

With all precincts reporting, just 571 votes separated the pair out of 2.7 million ballots cast. The Associated Press declared Mr. Coleman the winner early Wednesday, but within hours rescinded the call, saying the race was still too close.

But if any doubts linger about the outcome, they weren't evident on Mr. Coleman's Web site Wednesday, where the word "Victory" was stripped across the page atop a message thanking supporters.

"The senator is thrilled and humbled to be given the opportunity to serve the people of Minnesota for another six years. Today is a time for us to come together as a state and a nation," Coleman campaign manager Cullen Sheehan said. "There is much work to be done, and the Senator is ready to roll-up his sleeves and bring people together to get it done."

But Mr. Franken said that he's still in the race and that his campaign was looking into "voting irregularities", including some polling places in Minneapolis that ran out of registration materials.

"This race is too close to call, and we do not yet know who won," Mr. Franken said. "We are lucky enough to live in a state with built-in protections to ensure that in close elections like these, the will of the people is accurately reflected in the outcome.

The apparent Coleman victory provided a rare bright spot for Republicans in an election where Democrats secured the White House and built up their majorities in the House and Senate.

Both candidates spent about $30 million in the race.

The contest also took a sharp turn toward the negative as election day drew closer. Mr. Coleman was criticized after a lawsuit surfaced alleging that a donor had sought to skirt campaign finance laws and send him $75,000 in campaign cash.