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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fortified For War

by dday

In other not-yet-decided Senate news, the Minnesota Canvassing Board, which is not really a body I ever wanted to hear a lot about, basically certified the victory of Al Franken today, putting him ahead by 50 votes with only a handful of wrongly disqualified absentee ballots left to count. The working rule from the state Supreme Court is that both the Franken and Coleman campaigns have to agree on allowing a ballot to be counted, and that is predictably going unwell. Of the 1,360 ballots that local election officials have cited as eligible for counting, Coleman is asking for just a portion to be counted, and most of them come from areas that voted for him in big numbers. They also want to look at ballots that officials did not put on the list. So Coleman is re-litigating the election, while Franken is perfectly content to have those 1,360 ballots counted and to leave it at that, which considering that he's only 50 votes ahead is something of a risk, although the absentees in general are thought to favor him.

Meanwhile, Coleman's strategy is to bash election officials and claim that the election is tainted as he moves into what will certainly be a contested election and a series of lawsuits. Funny, I don't hear anyone, inside or outside of Minnesota, saying that the election is over and the state needs time to heal, and for the sake of comity and bipartisanship Coleman needs to step aside. In fact, Senate Republicans are making every effort to block Franken from being seated, and using zombie lies to do it.

It now looks like the Senate GOP could end up trying to block the seating of Al Franken, assuming he is declared the winner next week in the Minnesota recount. NRSC chairman John Cornyn put out a statement accusing the Franken campaign of falsely declaring victory, and denouncing the idea of provisionally seating him while the expected legal dispute of the election is resolved:

"Al Franken is falsely declaring victory based on an artificial lead created on the back of the double counting of ballots. His campaign's actions in the last several days on the issues of rejected absentee ballots are creating additional chaos and disorder in the Minnesota recount. Those actions, coupled with the recent comments by Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who suggests seating someone even if there is an election contest, are unprecedented. Minnesotans will not accept a recount in which some votes are counted twice, and I expect the Senate would have a problem seating a candidate who has not duly won an election."

The double-counting issue, dubious to begin with, was shot down by the state Supreme Court. The Coleman campaign has been the one cherry-picking the ballots. And the Congress can ultimately do what it wants regarding seating members after elections, and indeed they have on a number of occasions, most recently to Vern Buchanan in FL-13 in 2007, when thousands of electronic votes just went missing in an extremely close race against Christine Jennings.

But consistency is the hobgoblin of those in the reality-based community. Those unwritten "rules" just don't apply when you're a Republican. Washington is actually the best example of asymmetric warfare, in that one side practices it, and the other worries that elites will be mad at them if they do the same.