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Minn. court rules for Franken in Senate race

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Al Franken has won the Minnesota Senate race after eight months of recounts and legal challenges.

In a unanimous, unsigned decision, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Franken, a Jewish Democrat,  "received the highest number of votes legally cast" and is entitled "to receive the certificate of election as United States senator from the state of Minnesota," according to media reports.

His Republican opponent, Norm Coleman, then ended his legal battle, officially conceding the race. Coleman, who also is Jewish, said further litigation "would damage the unity of our state."

With Coleman’s defeat and the decision by Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter to join the Democratic caucus, the Senate now has no Jewish Republican members. The House of Representatives has one Jewish Republican, Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia.

During the court battle over the Minnesota vote, Coleman has been serving as a paid consultant to the Republican Jewish Coalition, an organization for which he often stumped during his years in the Senate.

Franken was ahead by 312 votes after a statewide recount, but Coleman had sued, arguing that the recount applied differing standards to ballots depending on the county.

The  Franken victory gives Democrats a 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Franken, a former writer and performer on "Saturday Night Live," is expected to be sworn in next week.

President Obama welcomed the news.

"I look forward to working with Sen.-elect Franken to build a new foundation for growth and prosperity by lowering health care costs and investing in the kind of clean energy jobs and industries that will help America lead in the 21st century," Obama said.

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