MN-SEN: Endgame

Recently, both Governor Tim Pawlenty and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie refused to certify Al Franken as the winner of the Minnesota Senate race, citing a state statute that supposedly prevents a certification from being issued until Norm Coleman is finished challenging the election in court.

Now the Franken campaign is suing in order to force Pawlenty and Ritchie to issue a certification, citing a different part of the aforementioned state statute that appears to say something different:

Al Franken’s lawyers really don’t mess around. In a conference call with reporters just now, lead Franken attorney Marc Elias announced that the campaign is filing a lawsuit at the state Supreme Court to force GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Democratic Secretary of State Mark Ritchie to issue Franken a certificate of election, and send him to the Senate.

Elias placed a request with Pawlenty and Ritchie yesterday, which was promptly rejected, arguing that Franken was entitled to a certificate contrary to the conventional wisdom that state law blocks the issuing of a certificate until after Norm Coleman’s lawsuit to overturn the result is settled.

Not so, Elias argues, saying that a different section of the same law would actually require the issuing of a certificate in a legislative contest, with its discussion of revoking an already-issued certificate if the contest concludes with the original loser now on top. “So there is a tension between these two provisions,” Elias said. But he thinks the provision he’s relying upon will trump the other because it is the more specific of the two.

Elias also cited the U.S. Constitution’s requirement that a legislative chamber is the arbiter of a disputed election, as opposed to courts.

[Emphasis mine]

I have no idea whether or not the case has any chance of succeeding, but I do know it’s ridiculous that Norm Coleman can deny the people of Minnesota their right to full representation in Congress just because he doesn’t want to concede an election he fairly lost.

On a related topic, Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats just scored an epic win over Mitch McConnell and the Republicans:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have reached a tentative agreement that would give Democrats a three-seat advantage on most committees during the 111th Congress.

That is a big change from the 110th Congress, when the party held only a 51-49 operating majority in the full Senate and a one-seat edge on most committees.

Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow , head of the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee, said Democrats negotiated a larger, four-seat advantage on the Appropriations and Armed Services committees. By statute, Democrats will have only a one-seat edge on the Intelligence Committee and a two-seat advantage on the Joint Economic Committee. On all other committees — except the Ethics panel, which always includes three members of each party — there will be three more Democrats than Republicans, Stabenow said.

[…]

The major sticking point of the lengthy and sometimes difficult ratio negotiations — whether to count the still-unresolved Minnesota Senate election as a Democratic pickup — appears to have been resolved in Democrats’ favor.

Stabenow said the ratios she disclosed Tuesday assume Democrats will enjoy an effective 59-41 edge in the Senate as a whole, a margin the party would achieve only if they win Minnesota.

[Emphasis added]

In other words, the Senate will be organized as if the Democrats won in Minnesota, giving them a bigger majority on nearly every committee.

It looks like the Republican rats are deserting Norm Coleman’s sinking ship.  Or perhaps they just threw him under the bus.  No matter which cliche you prefer, Senate Republicans just showed that they have no longer have any confidence in Norm Coleman.

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