Political tidbits: Rahm’s rabbi, Franken’s victory, Richardson’s investigation

  • "He’s good enough, he’s smart enough, and, gosh darn it, he’s a U.S. senator?" That’s how the Washington Post begins its piece reporting that Al Franken is likely to be named the winner of the U.S. Senate race in Minnesota today. But he’s unlikely to take a seat in the Capitol this week:

Although Franken trailed Coleman on election night, the Democrat — thanks in part to the ace work of election lawyer Marc Elias — has gained steadily ever since. A hand recount of the nearly 3 million ballots cast turned the race into a dead heat, and the recent counting of 933 wrongly rejected absentee ballots (don’t ask) yielded a 225-vote edge for Franken heading into today’s meeting of the state Canvassing Board, in which a winner — presumably Franken — will be named.

So, why won’t Franken be a senator later today? Because of pending legal challenges that the incumbent’s campaign thinks can sway the outcome — the most important of which, dealing with the inclusion of 654 allegedly wrongly rejected absentee ballots (from largely pro-Coleman territory), will be decided by the Minnesota Supreme Court.

  • The Associated Press interviews Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel’s rabbi, Asher Lopatin, about how his congregant juggles his religious and political responsibilities — and his famed temper:

Q: Are the stories true about his temper?

A: I haven’t seen any of that in the synagogue, that’s all I can say! Rahm is very self-aware — he’s aware of his image; he’s aware of all the stories about him. But when he comes to synagogue, he comes to pray; he comes to be with his family. He’s not in synagogue to talk politics. We don’t call him Rahmbo here!

  • The Philadelphia Jewish Voice has details on the inauguration weekend debut of the Jewish Grassroots Action Network, an outgrowth of a "Jews for Obama" group:

A promising new organization, the Jewish Grassroots Action Network (JGAN) will be launched at a series of events in Washington, DC from 1/16-1/20. In collaboration with several DC area synagogues, JGAN will be hosting a multi-denominational Shabbaton, a Grassroots Workshop, and a Celebratory Dinner.

  • The chairman of the board of the Yavneh Hebrew Academy in Los Angeles is at the center of the federal investigation that derailed Bill Richardson’s nomination as secretary of commerce. David Rubin’s firm, CDR Holdings, is being looked at for possible "pay-to-play" dealings in its acquisition of a New Mexico government contract. Rubin, reported the Associated Press last month, has given "millions of dollars to political and Jewish causes over the years."

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