Cullen Sheehan, who was campaign manager of Norm Coleman’s still respirating 2008 Senate reelection campaign, has moved on.
Without much fanfare, Sheehan has begun working full-time as the Midwest regional political director for the Republican National Committee. Sheehan told me he is no longer getting paid by the Coleman campaign, but is still helping out as needed. But that may be difficult, as he is on the road now every week (and has been since he started the job four weeks ago) getting to know his new territory, which stretches from Minnesota west to Montana and south to Arkansas. His job is to help the state Repub parties in those states with fund-raising and other basic political tasks.
This feels like the continuation of the gradual shutdown of Coleman’s campaign operations. The paid staff now consists of one full-time media guy, plus one andd a half positions doing administrative work. It deepens my sense that there will be no appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court nor effort to start a new case in federal district court (although Coleman could certainly do either of those things with his legal team, without needing a campaign manager, although not without continuing to fund-raise).
On a related note, Gov. Pawlenty said on CNN yesterday that he expects a Supreme Court ruling on Coleman’s appeal “any day” and that he will sign an election certificate promptly unless a federal court issues a stay. That’s totally consistent with what he’s been saying for some weeks, but the tone of this iteration seemed a little different and he did not sound like he would wait very long to give Coleman time to seek a stay.
Both the Strib and the Pi-Press described it as his clearest statement to date that he will sign and won’t delay. I agree, although the difference was entirely tonal.
Here’s video of Pawlenty on CNN’s State of the Union with John King asking the questions, followed, for those who don’t want to watch the video, by transcript of his Coleman-Franken answer.
Here’s the transcript:
KING: Your state has only had one United States senator since the election because of the disputed election between Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken.
Your state Supreme Court has a ruling before it, it could come very soon. After that ruling, the next step would be for you to certify the election. Will you certify the election based on your state’s supreme court ruling, is that for you?
PAWLENTY: I’m going to follow the direction of the court, John. We expect that ruling any day now. I also expect them to give guidance and direction as to the certificate of election. I’m prepared to sign it as soon as they give the green light.
KING: And so if Norm Coleman loses at the state supreme court and says he’s going to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, will you give him that time or will you say, sorry, Senator Coleman, our state supreme court, our highest court in this state, has spoken, and I will follow their lead?
PAWLENTY: Well, a federal court could stay or put a limit on or stop the effect of the state court ruling. If they chose, if they do that, I would certainly follow their direction. But if that doesn’t happen promptly or drags out for any period of time, then we need to move ahead with signing this, particularly if I’m ordered to do that by the state court.
KING: And if you’re ordered to do it and they say Al Franken has narrowly won the election, you’re prepared to sign it, if the court says so.
PAWLENTY: I’m not going to defy an order of the Minnesota Supreme Court. That would be a dereliction of my duty. But a federal court could weigh in and say, don’t do that and order a different result.