As Norm Coleman’s legal challenges to Al Franken’s recount victory for Minnesota’s U.S. Senate seat drag on, his friends in Congress have begun helping him foot the bill. Earlier this month, prominent Republicans held a “ritzy fundraiser” for Coleman with many “max[ing] out to Coleman’s effort” (some giving as much as $10,000 in PAC money) while others pleaded with supporters in a YouTube message to contribute to his legal fight.
If Franken ultimately wins, the Senate Democratic caucus will grow to 59 members, close to a filibuster proof majority. But as evidence mounts that Coleman stands little chance of winning, speculation has emerged that Republicans in Congress are simply trying to keep Minnesota’s seat empty as long as possible to avoid making it easier for the Democrats to pass their agenda.
But the longer the seat remains vacant, the longer the citizens of Minnesota remain underrepresented. Indeed, today on C-SPAN, Minnesota’s Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) said that the lone representation in the senate is hurting the state:
HOST: [H]as it hurt the state not having a senator, a second senator available? […]
PAWLENTY: Yes, it has put Minnesota at a disadvantage when there’s only 100 senators total and you are missing one and it is one of two from your state, that puts you at a disadvantage. When you have big legislation being decided and you are trying to fight for your perspective, or your influence on a piece of legislation it puts our state at a disadvantage.
Pawlenty later added that the Coleman/Franken race “is going to be decided through the courts, unfortunately” and that a decision will be made “in the next month or two.” “If one side or the other then appeals to the federal court it could really drag on well beyond,” he said, adding, “So we’re kind of just stuck pending the court process.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) said being Minnesota’s only representative in the senate has been a “challenge.” She added that “her home-state office has been flooded with phone calls and said her staff has seen its casework double in size.”