- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Republican Norm Coleman prepared for another legal challenge Wednesday in Minnesota's drawn-out U.S. Senate recount, as the national political parties tussled on the sidelines over a court ruling that declared Democrat Al Franken the winner.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine called for Mr. Coleman to surrender the fight after the court decision late Monday night.

“Enough is enough,” Mr. Kaine said.

“The people of Minnesota deserve two senators and the people of America deserve 100 in the U.S. Senate. More importantly, the voters who cast ballots on Election Day deserve to have their verdict stand,” he said. “Senator Coleman may have a right to continue his legal challenges no matter how hopeless they are, but the right thing to do here is to concede defeat and allow this saga to end once and for all.”

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, chided Democrats for changing their tune since backing Al Gore's Florida recount fight in 2000.

“It's frankly shocking that many of the same Democrats who so loudly decried voter disenfranchisement during the Florida recount in 2000 have so quickly run away from that principle when it no longer fits their political agenda,” he said.

A Franken victory tilts the Senate balance of power further to the Democrats. Mr. Franken would be the chamber's 59th Democrat, putting the majority one vote away from the 60 needed to break a filibuster and ram legislation to passage.

Minnesota also has been short a senator during the five-month recount battle.

Mr. Cornyn said the nation's fundamental principles of due process and equal protection were “under attack in Minnesota,” where he said Mr. Coleman's Election Night lead was erased by Democrats' legal maneuvers during the recount.

Mr. Coleman, the incumbent, led by about 700 votes on Election Night before a routine review of the results whittled his lead to 215 votes heading into a mandatory hand recount of the 2.9 million ballots cast.

Mr. Franken, a former “Saturday Night Live” comedian, had gained a 312-vote lead when a three-judge panel unanimously ruled that he was the winner and should get an election certificate to be seated in the Senate.

“Nonetheless, Republicans and the NRSC in particular remain committed to a full and fair resolution of this election contest and stand firmly behind Senator Norm Coleman,” Mr. Cornyn said.

Mr. Coleman's lead attorney, Ben Ginsberg, said an appeal likely will be filed next week after the legal team reviews the decision. Lawyers have complained that counties treated absentee ballots differently, creating constitutional problems.

Mr. Ginsberg said one of the issues is 4,400 uncounted absentee ballots. He said the courts decision to declare a victor without counting those ballots was “inconsistent with the Minnesota tradition of enfranchising voters.”

“We feel they have misunderstood a number of the issues as well as what's at stake in this case,” Mr. Ginsberg said.

State law provides 10 days to petition the Minnesota Supreme Court to review Monday night's decision.

“It's time that Minnesota, like every other state, have two” senators, Mr. Franken said after the decision Monday night, according to the Associated Press. “I would call on Senator Coleman to allow me to get to work for the people of Minnesota as soon as possible.”


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