The GOP's Senate stall in Minnesota

The GOP's Senate stall in Minnesota

April 18th, 2009 in Opinion Times

A three-judge appellate court in Minnesota ruled in unusually assertive language this week that Democrat Al Franken won Minnesota's second Senate race last fall. It said the election has been proven "by overwhelming evidence" to have been conducted "fairly, impartially and accurately." Yet Norm Coleman, the Republican incumbent defeated by Mr. Franken in an excruciatingly close race, still vows to drag on an election contest that has already run five months.

This isn't fair to the people of Minnesota, to the U.S. Senate, or to all other Americans. Indeed, it is a transparent ploy by Mr. Coleman and the national Republican party to deprive the Senate of a Democratic senator whose vote would give Senate Democrats to 59 votes - just one vote shy of a filibuster-proof margin of 60.

That's what Mr. Coleman's contest now is all about: depriving Democrats of getting closer to the filibuster cut-off margin. If the situation were reversed, Rush Limbaugh and other vocal right-wing protesters surely would be filling the airwaves with venom, fully amplified by Fox national news, about a Democratic stall. For better or worse, Democrats haven't bothered, or managed, to make Senator-elect Franken's plight a high-profile cause.

The margin of victory determined by tedious counts and recounts, and strongly upheld by both a trial court and an appellate, stands 312 votes. Mr. Coleman, who claimed victory last November before the votes were fully counted, obviously has reason to be disappointed. But he lost; that's politics. He's a big boy and ought to move on.

Yet he plans to pursue his stalling tactics for Senate Republicans to the state Supreme Court, which is unlikely to overturn its lower courts, and then to the U.S. Supreme Court. Minnesota's Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, in rank cahoots with national Republicans to keep Mr. Franken from taking his seat, refuses to certify Mr. Franken's election until Mr. Coleman loses the final legal battle.

Politics may not be bean bag, but this is unusually low and unfair. Mr. Coleman owes it to his state to concede the election and allow Mr. Franken to take his seat. Gov. Pawlenty should certify the election and let it go.