Last week, the ongoing legal battle between Democrat Al Franken and Republican Norm Coleman officially became the “the longest recount in Minnesota history.” Though Franken leads Coleman in the current vote tally, according to the Minnesota Supreme Court, he can’t be certified until after election challenges have been decided in the state courts.
If Coleman loses in the state courts, he and his Republican backers are indicating that they may seek to bring it to the federal level, which could keep the Senate seat vacant for much longer. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn told Politico recently that the party is willing to keep the seat empty for “years”:
Texas Sen. John Cornyn is threatening “World War III” if Democrats try to seat Al Franken in the Senate before Norm Coleman can pursue his case through the federal courts.
Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, acknowledges that a federal challenge to November’s elections could take “years” to resolve. But he’s adamant that Coleman deserves that chance — even if it means Minnesota is short a senator for the duration.
The threat of an empty Senate seat for years — which would hold the Democratic advantage in the Senate at 58–41 — does not appear to be a welcome concept to the people of Minnesota. The Star Tribune reported last week that “the prospect of a protracted battle irks some regardless of their political leanings.”
Additionally, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) believes that only having one senator is hurting Minnesota. In February, Pawlenty told C-Span that “it has put Minnesota at a disadvantage when there’s only 100 senators total and you are missing one.” Watch it:
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who is serving as Minnesota’s lone voice in the Senate these days, says that it has been a “challenge.” Klobuchar told Politico in February that “her home-state office has been flooded with phone calls and said her staff has seen its casework double in size.”