Norm Coleman


At last, Minnesota’s long statewide nightmare is over.

Norm Coleman finally conceded his former U.S. Senate seat to Al Franken, who, as it turned out, won the seat by a mere 312 votes in the November 2008 election, 239 days ago. An entire NBA season was played between the election and its conclusion. (Actually, the NBA season started a week before the election, but you get my point — Minnesotans surely are relieved to hear they finally will have dual representation in the U.S. Senate again after an eight-month election recount battle.)

Coleman decided to throw in the towel  following the Minnesota Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in favor of Franken. This likely isn’t the last we’ve heard of Coleman, though; many political analysts expect him to run for the Minnesota governorship again. (He previously lost that race to former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, giving Coleman the distinction of losing political races to a former pro wrestler and a former comedian.)

The biggest significance of Franken’s victory is the Democrats now have a 60-seat supermajority capable of preventing Republican filibusters in the Senate — sort of. The Democrats actually have only 59 U.S. senators (Joe Lieberman is an independent who caucuses with the Democrats), and two of them (Robert Byrd and Ted Kennedy) are in poor health. Some other Democratic senators (members of the Moderate Dems Working Group come to mind) certainly are not rubber-stamp votes for all Democratic bills. Nonetheless, the Republicans still have only 40 senators, so the Democrats have no one to blame but themselves if they don’t pass the kinds of legislation they promised voters.

Norm Coleman before he adopted John Kerry's hairstyle

Norm Coleman before he adopted John Kerry's hairstyle

Republican Saxby Chambliss easily defeated Democrat Jim Martin in yesterday’s U.S. Senate runoff election in Georgia, putting an end to the outside chance the Democratic Party would get a 60-seat supermajority to prevent Republican filibusters. This is good, not because Chambliss necessarily deserved to be re-elected, but because the Democrats should not run the government carte blanche. No political party should have that kind of unchecked power in federal government, lest its radical elements easily pass legislature not roundly supported by those representing the middle ground between political ideologies.

Meanwhile, the recount in Minnesota’s U.S. Senate race continues, with Democrat Al Franken gaining 37 votes on Republican Sen. Norm Coleman’s lead due to the sudden discovery of 171 ballots that weren’t counted on election night. That seems suspicious to me. Why does it seem every election recount results in discovery of uncounted ballots? Either there are a lot of votes that go uncounted in elections with uncontested results, or subversive political operatives regularly plant new votes when recounts take place. Neither case is good for democracy.