Congratulations, Senator Al Franken

UPDATE: The Des Moines Register reports that Franken will headline Senator Tom Harkin’s steak fry on September 13.

The 2008 elections finally ended today. Norm Coleman conceded the U.S. race in Minnesota following a unanimous state Supreme Court ruling in Al Franken’s favor.

Talking Points Memo posted their Top 10 moments from the mostly infuriating, sometimes comical Franken-Coleman saga.

We can laugh at Coleman’s pretzel logic during the legal proceedings, but unfortunately, his gamesmanship deprived Minnesota of full representation in the Senate for half a year. In all likelihood Franken will be stuck with less-than-stellar committee assignments. Also, the delay did lasting damage to Franken’s seniority. Had he been sworn in on time, he would have outranked several fellow Senate Democrats, which could become important one or two terms down the road.

Nevertheless, I have high hopes for Senator Franken and look forward to his work in Washington.

P.S.- I still don’t understand why so many Minnesotans voted for Dean Barkley.

P.P.S.- Rush Limbaugh is still a big fat idiot.  

Arlen Specter's Impact on Al Franken

{First, a cheap plug for my blog Senate Guru.} Before Arlen Specter’s Party switch announcement yesterday, the Senate’s Democratic caucus stood at 58 members.  Senator-elect Al Franken represented Democrats’ 59th vote toward cloture, still short of reliably ending Republican filibusters.  But now, with Specter joining the Democratic caucus, Senator-elect Franken represents the big 6-0, which is why Republicans will redouble their efforts to delay Senator-elect Franken’s seating – and why we in the netroots must redouble our efforts to send obstructionist Republicans a message and also provide them with adequate disincentive from delaying Senator-elect Franken’s seating any further.

Since the “One Dollar a Day to Make Norm Coleman Go Away” effort started just a couple weeks ago, about $40,000 has been raised to remind the Republicans funding Norm Coleman’s endless appeals that, for every single day that they delay the implementation of the will of Minnesota voters, progressive voters will raise money to use against these Republicans on Election Day 2010.

Your support will strengthen that message!

Norm Coleman and his fellow Republicans recently scored a success in further delaying Senator-elect Franken’s seating, as the trial schedule adopted by the state Supreme Court for Coleman’s appeal is such that oral arguments before the Court won’t begin until June 1st, over a month from now.  Further, although Minnesota election policy dictates that Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty must prepare and sign Senator-elect Franken’s election certificate once the state Supreme Court hands down its decision, Pawlenty has hemmed and hawed as to whether he would follow state election policy accordingly.

With a D next to Arlen Specter’s name, Republicans will go full force to block Senator-elect Franken’s seating.  Please join us in eliminating Republicans’ incentive to delay Senator-elect Franken’s seating any further by taking part in the “One Dollar a Day to Make Norm Coleman Go Away” effort.  At right is video of the segment on MSNBC’s Hardball highlighting the effort.

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MN-Sen: Make Norm Coleman Go Away for Just One Dollar a Day

{First, a cheap plug for my blog Senate Guru.}

Even in Iowa, I’m sure you’ve heard plenty about what’s going on with the still-unsettled Senate race in Minnesota.

While Republican Norm Coleman prolongs his endless and pointless appeals, cementing his admission into the Sore Losers Hall of Fame, progressive organizations Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee have introduced a new effort:, “A Dollar a Day to Make Norm Go Away.”  Very simply put, commit to contributing just one dollar per day for every day that sore loser Norm Coleman refuses to concede.

This is exactly the correct approach to take in order to provide Republican leadership in Washington with adequate disincentive from continuing to fund Coleman’s endless appeals.  The GOP bigwigs funding Coleman’s appeals see value in putting their money toward keeping progressive Senator-elect Al Franken from being seated.  This grassroots-powered effort will make them think twice by generating many thousands of dollars for progressive candidates for every single day that they fund the Coleman circus.

If you feel so inclined, you can certainly chip in a bit of change directly to the Franken Recount Fund, as well.

What does a challenged ballot look like?

In December the Minnesota State Canvassing Board will review hundreds of challenged ballots to see whether voter intent can be discerned. Their rulings could determine the outcome of the Minnesota Senate race, where fewer than 200 votes separate Al Franken and Norm Coleman. Many votes remain to be recounted before the canvassing board meets.

Minnesota Public Radio has posted photos of 11 ballots that have been challenged for different reasons. Click the link to view these ballots and vote on whether they should be accepted or rejected, and if accepted, for whom the vote should count.

Of the 11 ballots, I would only put one in the reject pile. Another was questionable, in my opinion. The other nine clearly showed a voter preference for Coleman, Franken or independent candidate Dean Barkley.

Update on Congressional races still to be decided

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Mark Begich took the lead as the early votes were counted, and seven-times-indicted Ted Stevens has conceded the Alaska Senate race. That makes seven Democratic pickups, with Georgia and Minnesota yet to be determined. The Democrats hold 56 Senate seats, and two independents (Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders) also caucus with Democrats.

The polls in Georgia have shown Republican Saxby Chambliss ahead of Jim Martin by three or four points. It’s all going to come down to turnout—I doubt much voter persuasion will occur between now and December 2. Barack Obama moved his field staff from Ohio down to Georgia, and many other groups, like Democracy for America, are helping Martin too. The state’s largest newspaper has endorsed Martin.

Chambliss has to be favored in this red state, but if the Democrats have a superior GOTV effort, Martin could pull off an upset.

The Minnesota recount has begun. Al Franken went into it 215 votes behind Norm Coleman (out of more than 2.5 million cast, or 0.008 percent). As of Wednesday evening, he had narrowed the gap to 181 votes. The state has a good “voter intent” law, meaning that if a person can determine the voter’s intent, the vote will count even if an optical scanner did not record it.

I can’t say I feel overly confident, but this study suggests Franken may have a good chance of taking the lead during the recount.

One wrinkle is that Franken successfully sued to get information about voters whose absentee ballots were rejected in one county. His campaign wants that information for all of the counties so that wrongfully excluded absentee ballots can be counted. However, it’s not clear whether those votes will ever be counted, even if the ballots were rejected because of clerical error.

As for the House races, we narrowly lost in CA-44, a district we did not target that was not considered competitive.

CA-04 has still not been called, but Democrat Charlie Brown trails carpet-bagger Tom McClintock by about 600 votes, and it seems unlikely he will be able to make up that margin.

It looks like we will pick up VA-05, which was viewed as quite a longshot before the election.

Louisiana will hold two runoff elections in December. Corrupt Democrat “Dollar Bill” Jefferson will most likely hold the second district. The fourth district is competitive, and Dick Cheney recently headed to Shreveport to campaign for the Republican.

UPDATE: I forgot Ohio’s 15th district, which is going to count provisional ballots. It seems like Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy has a decent chance of beating Republican Steve Stivers.

Democrats will end up with something between 255 and 259 House seats out of 438. Not bad at all.

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