July 3, 2009

Lesson to learn from Sen Franken’s election

  6:18 am

The very first thing that needs to happen is acceptance.  Whether there were irregularities that bring into question the legitimacy of this election (and I think there were), the fact of the matter is that Sen Franken was declared the winner, and no party with a vested interest is contesting this.  This was a close election, let there be no doubt of it, and had there not been a 3rd party candidate, Sen Franken would likely have won outright on election night.  Let us not act like Democrats, who still complain that Pres Bush stole 2000 and 2004 (no evidence shows either, only what if scenarios that could cut either way).  This puts Dems with 60 votes in the Senate, making a filibuster that much harder (though doable, because Dems have their DINOs that will sustain some of the filibusters).

Having said that, I think there’s a variety of election issues that we should be raising NOW, as opposed to trying to fight them in court after the election has occurred.  Generally, we’ll lose at that point, as the courts (rightly) are reluctant to make a change to how the votes were counted. (more…)


June 30, 2009

Minnesota Supreme Court Certifies Franken as Winner of Senate Race

  6:07 pm

Hello, virtual super majority!:

Democrat Al Franken, a satirist turned politician, was declared the winner of a Senate seat in Minnesota on Tuesday, clearing the way for President Barack Obama‘s party to secure a critical 60-seat majority in the Senate.Ending one of the longest Senate races ever, the Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously rejected each of Republican Norm Coleman‘s five legal arguments that an earlier recount of the November 4 vote had been unfair. Coleman quickly conceded.

Franken will become the 58th Senate Democrat, the most the party has had since 1981. Two independents routinely vote with the Democrats, giving the party the 60 votes needed to clear Republican procedural hurdles known as filibusters

…”A lot is being made of me being the 60th member of the Democratic caucus. That’s not how I see it,” Franken said. “I’m going to Washington to be the second senator from Minnesota.”

Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty said in a statement he would sign the election certificate immediately, allowing Franken, a former writer and actor for the popular Saturday Night Live television show, to join the Senate, likely next week.


April 13, 2009

BREAKING: MN Court Declares Franken Leading Vote-getter

  6:57 pm

A Minnesota court confirmed Monday that Democrat Al Franken won the most votes in his 2008 Senate race against Republican Norm Coleman.

Senator Coleman has one last option, an appeal to the state Supreme Court.  He has 10 days to file this appeal.

After a statewide recount and seven-week trial, Franken stands 312 votes ahead. Franken actually gained more votes from the election challenge than Coleman, the candidate who brought it.  The judges rejected Coleman’s argument that a state board improperly made up for a packet of ballots lost between the election.


April 7, 2009

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

  10:26 am

I am one of the many who verbally piled on Senator Stevens when he was convicted of lying on his Senate financial forms, and like some others, I now admit to being wrong and not giving him the benefits of the doubt.  Supporting earmarks does not prove intent on other criminal activities.  In our celebrity-driven culture, the media and public are quick to convict those in the public eye, even before a hearing.  In this case, we took the word of the Federal government without investigating the facts or listening to the defendant.  Governor Palin was criticized in some liberal publications for not taking a stronger stand again the re-election bid of Senator Stevens, but maybe she knew the truth all along?    

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan on the Stevens case:

A federal judge criticized the government’s handling of the Ted Stevens corruptiontrial Tuesday as he considered whether to dismiss the conviction that ended the Alaska Republican’s 40-year career in the U.S. Senate.  “In nearly 25 years on the bench, I’ve never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I’ve seen in this case,” 

The judge said he has seen a troubling trend of prosecutors withholding evidence in cases against people ranging from Guantanamo Bay detainees to public officials such as Stevens. He called on judges nationwide to issue formal orders in all criminal cases requiring that prosecutors turn over evidence to defendants.

It was a stinging rebuke of the Justice Department and Sullivan called on Holder to order training for all prosecutors.

 Stevens is too old to run for re-election in 6 years, but in the red state of Alaska, this will help delegitimize the re-election campaign of Senator Begich.  


March 2, 2009

Can Norm Coleman still win?

  9:11 pm

In the wake of yet another setback, does Senator Coleman stand a chance of regaining his seat?

With the setback linked above, I think it somewhat likely that he’ll lose most to all challenges where he challenges the veracity and integrity of the count itself.  That includes the 133 phantom ballots that couldn’t be located, so the election officials decided to go with the results that favored Mr. Franken.

Assuming he does lose all of those challenges, what does Sen Coleman have left?  Well, there’s still some 3,700 ballots that may or may not get included in the count.  My understanding is they don’t include any from Hennepin and Ramsey, as all of those ballots were settled during the recount.  This is very significant, for reasons I’ll share in a moment.

Per the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website, Mr. Franken leads by 225 votes.  They are also kind enough to post a county-by-county breakdown of how the votes broke down, and an estimate on the number of votes cast in each county (Why is it just an estimate?  Shouldn’t they be able to determine this by now?).  Using that information, I’ve been able to calculate a few things:

First, the overall percentage of votes that didn’t go to either Sen Coleman or Mr Franken (17% overall, or almost 18% excluding Hennepin and Ramsey).  Second, the amount of support each candidate got (with all counties, it’s just over 41% each, while excluding Hennepin and Ramsey, it’s 44.6% to 37.5% for Sen Coleman).

What does all this mean?  Assuming an even distribution of ballots, it will mean that for every ballot that gets counted, Sen Coleman will win 0.07 votes.  If Sen Coleman gets all 3,700 ballots counted, it will mean he will likely net about 264 votes, which would be enough to win this race by 39 votes.  Not a lot of margin for error, and it’s no surprise that Mr Franken wants to limit the additional ballots to only 700.

Several things could still happen to sway this.  More ballots could be thrown out, or the judges could rule in Sen Coleman’s favor on some of his challenges.  There’s reason to hope, but some things will have to go Sen Coleman’s way if he hopes to win the race.

Update: Well, it appears the testimony is in, but Sen Coleman will have to pay for it.  It certainly helps to have another route to argue, and may not doom all of the challenges set forth.  Mr Franken’s team is talking about another 2 weeks or so for them to complete their arguments, as Sen Coleman has rested.  Wouldn’t there be irony involved in an April 1 ruling?


February 3, 2009

BREAKING: Judicial Panel Rules 4,800 Ballots to be Recounted in MN Senate Recount

  5:35 pm

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

“Nearly 4,800 rejected absentee ballots may be considered in the Senate recount trial, according to a ruling from the three-judge panel hearing the dispute between Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken.

The court order indicates that all absentee ballots that complied with state law should be counted, along with those where errors occurred through no fault of the voter.”

With Hennepin County’s (Minneapolis/suburbs) and Ramsey County’s (St. Paul/suburbs) not included in these 4,800 votes, expect Norm to emerge victorious when it is all said and done.

For MN Senate recount news, Minnesota Democrats Exposed is your one-stop shop.


January 8, 2009

Is Norm Coleman a Total Loser? Or is Minnesota Completely Insane?

  1:13 am

No senator in the history of the United States has run against as many nuts, boobs, and whackjobs as our poor Norm Coleman. In 1998, he faced future 9/11 Truther Jesse “The Body” Ventura for the governor’s mansion; in 2002, Walter Mondale was his Senate opponent after Paul Wellstone died, and he just got himself into a contested race with Al Franken — who is not only extremely liberal, but an alleged professional comedian and as outrageous in his political proclamations as Ann Coulter is on the right. Think of Mark Pryor narrowly losing a Senate seat to Ann Coulter and you’ve basically got the Minnesota scenario in reverse, except that, unlike with Pryor, nobody actually thinks that Norm Coleman is a capable candidate.

Does this say more about Norm Coleman or about Minnesota, though? While it’s certainly true that Norm Coleman has all of the charisma and insight of a plastic bag, it’s got to say something that Minnesota, that perpetual “swing state,” has the longest-running blue streak of any state in the union at the presidential level. Only Minnesota failed to vote properly in 1984. (Tennessee voted for George W. Bush in 2000, so let’s not play that they-always-win-their-home-state game. Just keeping with the other M’s, even Massachusetts and Maryland voted for Reagan, okay?) Surely any state nutty enough to vote for Walter Mondale over Ronald Reagan wouldn’t mind voting for an alleged comedian such as Mr. Franken?

But still, come on. Norm lost, albeit narrowly (he makes a habit of this), to The Body in 1998, won — again, narrowly — thanks to President Bush’s massive popularity against fellow Loser Mondale himself in 2002 after the Wellstone funeral fiasco, and now appears to have (narrowly!) lost to Franken. Does Norm Coleman himself have something to do with why he keeps finding himself in extremely narrow elections with gasbags? We are speaking about the guy who said that he’d only support CAFTA if three-year-long sugar quotas were added in to the mix (what if everyone wanted their own caveat? What kind of free trade agreement would we then have?). Far be it from me to say that Norm is an exceptionally poor campaigner or politician, but his brand of perpetual loserdom combined with Minnesota’s bizarro politics makes for a rather toxic mix.

Given Coleman’s incumbency, it was too late to bump him from the ticket for someone else (and besides, who would we have run?), but the man’s got a pretty weak electoral history: he never actually reached 50% over the past ten years. So the mere fact that he finds himself contesting an election with Al Franken, of all people, shouldn’t really shock anyone. Norm should have, in theory, run away with the election: he was running as a moderate Republican with an uncontroversial record in a center-left state against a total boob. The problem is that Minnesota loves boobs (not as much as California, though: two female senators and a governor who gropes women?), and Norm Coleman is as interesting as a paperweight. (Fellow paperweight Susan Collins fared better, but she lives in Maine, and, well, so it goes.)

My solution to this snafu? Grant Puerto Rico statehood, but give Minnesota to Canada. That way, we can still have a nice, round 100 in the Senate. We’ll have lost an interesting sideshow and even our buddy Tim Pawlenty, but as a whole, we’ll have much, much saner people as part of the country.

Alex Knepper can be contacted at apkkib@aol.com.


January 7, 2009

Should Norm Coleman Surrender to Save His Image?

  8:06 am

Matt Lewis suggests that Norm Coleman is ruining his reputation and future political career  by his court challenge to Al Franken’s “victory in Minnesota” which is the result of a meticulous recount using practices defined as magic. With a 225 vote margin for Franken, in 25 precincts, there were more votes counted than people who voted, multiple voting errors. Wrote the Journal of the recount process:

Minnesotans like to think that their state isn’t like New Jersey or Louisiana, and typically it isn’t. But we can’t recall a similar recount involving optical scanning machines that has changed so many votes, and in which nearly every crucial decision worked to the advantage of the same candidate. The Coleman campaign clearly misjudged the politics here, and the apparent willingness of a partisan like Mr. Ritchie to help his preferred candidate, Mr. Franken. If the Canvassing Board certifies Mr. Franken as the winner based on the current count, it will be anointing a tainted and undeserving Senator.

At this point, I don’t know who really won definitively. What I do know is that Democrats have played the same game in Minnesota that they played in Washington State back in 2004-keep counting votes until you win. And that there’s something awfully fishy about the degree to which this election has shifted. For too long, Republicans have let Senate Seats and Governor’s races go by the boards in places like Missouri in 2000, South Dakota in 2002 because there’s been a thinking in the GOP that the integrity of elections matters a whole lot less than people thinking we’re not poor sports. We should just smile and say, “Hey, you stole this election fair and sqaure. Good work.”

In Coleman’s case, he has no political future as a candidate for elected office if truly he has been bested by pornographer and tax cheat Al Franken. Not winning by a solid margin against  this clown, says that Coleman doesn’t have a whole lot of image to save.

Coleman has no reason not to pursue this and challenge this sham of a counting process. Maybe through the challenge, an accurate count will help him bridge the 225-vote margin for Franken, or perhaps a court will result in a revote. Coleman ultimately has nothing to lose. To paraphrase the 109th rule of acquistion, for Coleman, “Image and an empty sack is worth the sack.”


January 5, 2009

December 21, 2008

Keep it in the Family

  4:18 pm

Some New York Democrats are pushing for Caroline Kennedy to be appointed to the Senate by Governor Paterson. The main rationale for the appointment seems to be that the Senate seat was once held by her uncle.

This is what Representative Tom Reynolds had to say:

“We’re seeing a seat-warmer in Delaware, a seat-seller in Illinois, and we’re making seat-cushions in New York for, kind of, an aristocrat royalty of entitlement coming in here.”

While Blagojevich was the worst, it seems the attitude in Washington is subtly shifting towards treating Senate seats as swag and booty.


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