Waiting around for a resolution


The Minneapolis Star Tribune says a Friday decision in the Minnesota U.S. Senate recount trial delivered "a blow but not a knockout" to Norm Coleman’s chances to overtake Al Franken:

The judges in the U.S. Senate election trial on Friday tossed out most of the 19 categories of rejected absentee ballots they were considering for a second look, making it clear that they won’t open and count any ballots that don’t comply with state law.

On its face, the ruling looked to be a victory for DFLer Al Franken, whose lawyers had urged the judges to turn down 17 of the 19 categories and said Friday that they had very nearly done it.

But Coleman’s attorneys saw it differently, saying that the ruling leaves untouched about 3,500 of the 4,800 rejected absentee ballots they want the court to open and count, enough to make it possible for Coleman to overcome Franken’s 225-vote certified recount lead.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post took a look at how Coleman and Franken, both of whom were in D.C. last week, are spending their time in "election limbo":

With no winner declared, Franken spent two days in Washington last week learning about arcane Senate procedures such as the anonymous hold, while his Democratic colleagues shaved billions of dollars from their stimulus proposal in the hope of capturing from Republicans one of the votes that Franken otherwise could have provided. Earlier, as the Senate debated one of the most expensive bills in history, Franken was grounded in his home state watching streaming video of the court proceedings involving the Minnesota seat on http://TheUpTake.org.

Coleman, for his part, worked the phones last week from the Washington offices of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, up the street from the Capitol, and held a fundraiser Wednesday for his legal effort that drew more than a dozen Republican senators, several of whom directed their political action committees to donate the $10,000 maximum to his post-election campaign.

Coleman says he’s been following the goings-on on Capitol Hill closely:

In a move Coleman’s critics say indicates that even he does not believe he can win, he has taken a part-time post with the Republican Jewish Coalition, serving as a consultant.

But Coleman says his calendar shows his commitment. He spends many of his days in court, watching as his lawyers plead his case and occasionally offering advice. The rest of the time, he is tracking legislation such as the stimulus package.

He says the one benefit is that he spends less time shuttling between Washington and Minnesota, allowing him to spend more time with his wife, although politics is never far from his mind.

"My wife doesn’t like to go shopping with me, because I spend all my time with constituents talking to me," Coleman said. "They say, ‘I’m praying for you; keep up the fight.’ "

Much of Coleman’s Washington staff is helping him and could return to their jobs if he prevails. Coleman says GOP leaders have promised he could return to the committees he served on during his first term, simplifying a transition back.

But for Franken, there’s a bit of a learning curve:

Franken has never lived in Washington or held a political post. He has met several times with  Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and discussed the committees on which he would like to serve, but he cannot hire a staff because he does not have funding for it.

Instead, he is meeting with experts on issues such as energy and health care, in the hope that he could make an immediate impact if seated.

And he says he is learning the procedures of the Senate, although he suspects they would be much easier to recall once he started enacting them.

"I think I have to be there," he said, comparing it to learning to ride a bike.


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