WASHINGTON, D.C. — For about an hour this morning, the U.S. Senate paid tribute to former Minnesota Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, who conceded defeat to Democratic Sen. Al Franken last week after an incredible, long-running contest for the open seat.
“It wasn’t the outcome he’d wanted, it wasn’t the outcome his Republican friends and colleagues in the Senate wanted,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “But, we couldn’t have expected anything less from Norm Coleman than the class and graciousness he showed in the closing act of this phase of his career as a public servant.”
In a send-off that sounded at times like a eulogy, Majority Leader Harry Reid D-Nev., Sen. Amy Klobuchar D-Minn., and a slew of Republican senators, took turns praising Coleman’s work for Minnesota and his character as a long-serving public servant both at the state and national level.
“Norm Coleman in his relations with me — my being a Democrat, he being a Republican – [was] always very, very good,” said Reid. “We spoke to each other often. He was always very courteous and always a gentleman with me.”
Reid then complimented Coleman’s work on legislation, which would allow people to give part of their income tax refund to the National Guard. Reid has now sponsored that same legislation.
“Norm was just a hardworking, dedicated man when it came to making sure his constituent interests were protected,” said Sen. Saxby Chambliss R-Ga., who was elected to the Senate in the same year as Coleman.
“Norm was just one of those guys that not only was a dedicated professional of this body, but he’s a good guy,” Chambliss said.
Klobuchar also reflected on the Senate race and her work with Coleman.
“Coleman made a difficult decision, and he did it with such grace,” Klobuchar said. “He could have appealed that decision, he could have gone to federal court. It was his right. But, he made a decision, which he felt was best for the state of Minnesota, and the state thanks him for that, and I personally thank him for that.”
Klobuchar talked about working with Coleman on legislation, including the farm bill, and their coordinated response to the I-35W bridge collapse and flooding in the southeastern corner of the state.
“Today I want to acknowledge my former colleague Norm Coleman, for the strength that he has shown during this long campaign, for the grace that he showed last week when he made that difficult decision, and for the fine work that he did for the people of Minnesota,” Klobuchar said.