A week ago, Politico quoted Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid to the effect that he would try to seat Al Franken in April even if the election contest was still on appeal. The piece got some pickup in Minnesota among Recountland followers. But it made little sense to me, because Reid has long since learned that Senate Repubs are prepared to block the action at least until a certificate is issued. I wondered whether Reid had some indication that the Republican’s cloture-proof 41-member solidarity on the question had changed. I checked with Reid’s able spokester (and native Minnesotan) Jim Manley who confirmed that the stories were wrong, that Republicans are still in position to block any effort to seat Franken without a certificate and that no attempt would be made.
“This is less about the calendar and more about the process in Minnesota,” Manley emailed me. “We have said all along, when the contest is over, Mr. Franken will have won the election, and at that time, he’ll of course be seated in the Senate. Hopefully Mr Coleman steps aside to clear the way as soon as possible in order for the people of Minnesota to have full representation in the US Senate.”
It’s fairly clear by now that Coleman is not taking that advice, at least from any Democrats.
As for the reference to April that Politico picked up, Reid said only that he was hopeful/optimistic that the court action would be done in April.
The Contest trial could conceivably end by then, but Coleman then has the right to appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court. Neither he nor his legal team have said anything definitive, but their recent public rhetoric would suggest they will make at least the first of those appeals. Gov. Tim Pawlenty has said that he doesn’t believe he can issue a certificate until the last appeal is resolved.
Which reminds me, today it is one month since Franken lawyer Marc Elias asked the state Supreme Court to rule that Franken should receive a provisional certificate that would allow him to be seated in the Senate pending a final court ruling on the election result. Most observers (including me) thought this argument was a prohibitive longshot, and I still do. But I have no clue (only brilliant guesses) why the court hasn’t ruled on it for a month.
While I had Manley talking about the Franken case, he couldn’t resist taking a shot at the do-over election idea:
“Just because Mr. Coleman is not happy with the results of the election/recount doesn’t mean he gets to schedule another one.”