Lawyers for Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman seem to only continue their lawsuits in an effort for Coleman to keep his seat, despite every recount of votes placing Coleman narrowly behind apparent winner Al Franken. On Tuesday, Minnesota state election officials opened and counted 351 absentee ballots that a three judge panel ordered needed to be legally counted despite attempts by lawyers hired by Coleman to suppress these votes, and this put Al Franken ahead by another 82 votes. Franken now leads by 312 votes, which is certainly no landslide by any means. No one will be calling Franken, "Landslide Al", anytime real soon. But it is pretty clear that Franken has probably won this senate seat. Yet lawsuits by Coleman will probably only continue to drag this thing out for a few more weeks.
Okay, Norm here's the deal. The United States is a representative democracy. And elections are held in which the guy with the most votes wins and represents the people. On November 2008, Republicans were facing some very tough times. George Bush fatigue tired-out many voters, the economy was sinking, and not every voter was very enegized by Sarah Palin or by the weak campaign effort by John McCain. In this bad tide for Republicans, Barack Obama was elected president with a big 9 and a half million vote margin, including a big win in Minnesota.
Oh certainly, Al Franken knew how to make things very hard for himself in a very Democratic year and in a very Democratic state. He nearly managed to lose this election by being so controversial, as many voters just couldn't quite take Franken entirely seriously. But in such a Democratic year, even Al Franken just couldn't quite blow this one for himself. Norm Coleman was facing this awful 2008 tide running against Republicans and just never had a really good chance to be re-elected, despite Al Franken being his opponent. The fact that he came as close to keeping his seat as he did was indeed a pretty good achievement. Many pretty good Republican senators such as compassionate conservative Gordon Smith of Oregon lost their senate seats despite relatively decent records on many issues. Smith even managed to work with Senator Kennedy on strengthening hate crimes legislation as well as work with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden on many issues. In the same vein, Coleman wasn't really a terrible senator by any means. But he faced a very difficult year for Republicans.
At some point, Coleman needs to recognize that elections are held to provide representation for citizens. And the citizens of Minnesota deserve to have someone represent them in Washington, even if it isn't Norm Coleman himself. There isn't any reason for Coleman to assume that the office is owed to him. If things were reversed, and Al Franken was consistently on the losing end of the vote count, after several recounts, lawsuits, court fights, etc., he would be expected to throw in the towel at some point.
Norm Coleman has left Minnesota without representation in Washington for months now. The November election is almost ancient history now. Coleman is highly unlikely to win this election despite lawsuit after lawsuit. You can't plan on winning an election by hoping to suppress the count of legally cast votes with lawsuits. Other than providing lawyers a lot of work, Coleman isn't really proving much of anything here other than a big personal ego trip.
For the good of his his state, Norm Coleman needs to throw in the towel and concede. But Coleman doesn't intend to quit. For Coleman's lawyers, the Minnesota state Supreme Court is only their next legal stop as Coleman hopes to drag this thing out even longer. And according to the Politico, Coleman faces several potentially serious ethics and even an FBI investigation into his business dealings with a benefactor. Even if Coleman pulls out some long shot legal victory to keep his seat in the senate, he faces a rocky path of serious legal issues that will dominate his term as senator.
Coleman needs to be a political realist here. Losing his senate seat might just be the best thing for both Minnesota and for Coleman.
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