Democrat Al Franken Won Minnesota Senate Race, State Board Set to Announce

January 5, 2009 - 5:57 AM
The state Canvassing Board was poised to certify the results of the recount in the U.S. Senate election in Democrat Al Franken's favor on Monday -- but that doesn't mean the race is over.

In this Nov. 4, 2008 photo, Democratic Senate candidate Al Franken shakes hands with supporters after speaking at the Democratic election night party in St. Paul, Minn. (AP File Photo/Jim Mone)

Minneapolis (AP) - The state Canvassing Board was poised to certify the results of the recount in Minnesota's grueling Senate election in Al Franken's favor on Monday -- but that doesn't mean the race is definitely over.
 
The board was to meet Monday and was expected to declare which candidate received the most overall votes from nearly 3 million ballots cast. The latest numbers showed Franken, a Democrat, with a 225-vote lead over Republican Sen. Norm Coleman.
 
But after the announcement, there will be a seven-day waiting period before an election certificate is completed. If any lawsuits are filed during that waiting period, certification is conditional until the issue is settled in court.
 
Coleman, who led Franken on election night, hasn't ruled out a lawsuit challenging the results, claiming there were irregularities that gave Franken an unfair advantage.
 
The Coleman campaign also has a petition pending before the state Supreme Court to include 650 ballots that it says were improperly rejected but not forwarded by local officials to St. Paul for counting.
 
The court has not said when it would rule in that case.
 
New York Sen. Charles Schumer, who until recently was the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said Sunday that Franken had won the election.
 
"While there are still possible legal issues that will run their course, there is no longer any doubt who will be the next Senator from Minnesota," Schumer said. "With the Senate set to begin meeting on Tuesday to address the important issues facing the nation, it is crucial that Minnesota's seat not remain empty, and I hope this process will resolve itself as soon as possible."
 
Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, called Schumer's comments premature and troubling, since Schumer is the new chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, which has jurisdiction over contested elections.
 
"Senator Schumer will likely play a key role in determining who ultimately assumes this Senate seat," Cornyn said. "Pre-judging the outcome while litigation is still pending calls into question his ability to impartially preside over this matter when it comes before the Committee, as it most certainly will."
 
Senate Republican leaders have said the chamber shouldn't seat Franken until all legal matters are settled, even if that drags on for months.
 
Franken campaign spokesman Andy Barr said in an e-mail Sunday: "In terms of future planning, we're taking it one step at a time. The next step is the canvass board's meeting tomorrow, where we have every expectation they will declare that Al won the election."