Time for Coleman To Do the Right Thing?
More than five months after the voters of Minnesota cast ballots in a crucial Senate race, there's still no official winner. The latest count has Democrat Al Franken leading Republican incumbent Norm Coleman by 312 voters, and it's almost time for Coleman to do the right thing and accept defeat.
I say almost because the Minnesota Supreme Court has yet to rule and Coleman is arguably entitled to that. But there's little doubt that in the end, Franken will come out the winner. Coleman's last court appeal led to the counting of 351 previously ineligible absentee ballots -- but the added count only increased Franken's lead from 225 to 312. Coleman has no real hope. The only question is how much longer he's going to deny the citizens of his state adequate representation in Washington.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican who may have presidential ambitions, originally said he would certify the results of the election once the state Supreme Court ruled. He now says he might be obliged to wait for a federal appeal, which could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and could take years. That's exactly what Republican leaders in Washington want. They seem determined to delay giving the Democrats a crucial 59th vote in the Senate, no matter what the consequences for Minnesota. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the chairman of the Republican Senate election committee, says there's no reason why Minnesota couldn't get along for years with only one senator.
Try telling that to the people of Minnesota. The consequences go far beyond a vote. The New York Times reported yesterday that Minnesota's other senator, Democrat Amy Klobuchar, has been overwhelmed trying to do double duty in handling constituent needs and fighting for the state's fair share of everything that comes out of Washington. Even some conservatives are warning that a prolonged fight will do nothing but potentially harm the GOP and the state.
As Klobuchar is careful to say, Coleman is entitled to his day in court. But he's had that day -- weeks and weeks of them -- in repeated legal challenges that have been rebuffed. It's almost time for him -- and Gov. Pawlenty -- to do the right thing and give up this fruitless quest. That means letting the Minnesota Supreme Court make the final decision and not drawing this out unnecessarily with a federal challenge. There comes a point when a legitimate legal right becomes a frivolous lawsuit, and we're almost there. The people of Minnesota deserve more than petty politics.