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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Sleazy Attempt to Unseat Sen. Franken Unraveling

Granted, the year is only half done, but if they gave an annual award for the most ridiculous, sour grapes attempt to invalidate an election, it would probably be shared by the Minnesota GOP’s Ex-Senator Norm Coleman and Governor Tim Pawlenty. Perhaps the best account of their sorry attempt to unseat Senator Al Franken comes from Jay Weiner’s Salon.com article, “Get over it, Republicans: Al Franken won.” Nobody’s going to explain it any better than Weiner:

…Minnesota Majority, a very conservative “watchdog” group, released a report (PDF) on June 28 that claims a lot of things. But when you get to the bottom line, the group seems to be saying that according to its research, 341 felons in Hennepin and Ramsey counties who should have been ineligible to vote actually cast votes in the Franken-Coleman election.
The report, flawed in the opinion of most legal analysts, got legs and wings and Internet echo chamber reverberations from — who else? — Fox News last week, and then other news organizations chased it, and right-wing blogs jumped on it, and the Minnesota Republican Party called for a statewide investigation and Coleman called Franken “an accidental senator” and Gov. Tim Pawlenty said there was “credible evidence” that the alleged felons who maybe voted possibly could have flipped the election’s final result. Breathless.

Here’s the math:

Franken, if you remember, won by 312 votes….Now, let’s take one key stat that Minnesota Majority focuses on, that 341 alleged felons from heavily Democratic Hennepin and Ramsey counties voted. For the moment, take that at face value.
That would mean, based on voter turnout numbers, about 70 percent of them (240) would be from Hennepin and 30 percent (101) would be from Ramsey. Taking into account the percentages for Franken, Coleman and others in each of those counties, Franken would net 51 votes.
Remember, he won by 312. Let’s take away those 51 in this silly game. That still isn’t enough to switch the result.

Weiner, author of the forthcoming “This Is Not Florida: How Al Franken Won the Minnesota Senate Recount,” dissects the twisted logic of the report:

…What makes anyone think felons would vote only for Franken? Indeed, it was Franken’s legal team during the recount’s election contest trial that raised the prospect that felons voted in the election; Franken’s lawyers found one such voter in a northern Minnesota county who voted for Coleman. Dare I ask: If Franken opened the door on such an avenue, why didn’t Coleman’s lawyers pursue this felon-voting issue then? They had their chance. And why does the Minnesota Majority report focus on the core-city counties?

Three guesses on that one. Weiner has more to say, reflecting unfavorably on the integrity of Governor Pawlenty, who is frequently mentioned as a possible GOP Presidential candidate:

As for the governor, he has spoken three times about the recount, and he’s been a bit fast and loose with his facts. First, in the early days of the recount, he spread — on Fox News — the completely untrue story about Minneapolis ballots that were supposedly being driven around in the alleged trunk of an unknown and nonexistent elections official. He spoke of this days after it was reported that the story was a fable.
Later, in a call with reporters, he overstated by thousands of percentage points the increase of absentee voters in 2008, trying to say that Franken won the election because of that…In fact, Franken won the recount by 49 votes before absentee ballots were counted.
Now, there are his comments — on Fox News — about the Minnesota Majority report and how it’s “quite possible” felon voting tipped the election. The facts aren’t there.

Pawlenty’s transparently blundering partisanship is not likely to sit well with mainstream MN voters, who have already endured an excruciating marathon recount process for the Franken-Coleman race. With his latest wallow in the sour grapes, Coleman may be destroying whatever fading chance he had for a re-run against Franken.
Franken, meanwhile, is doing an exceptional job of establishing himself as an able legislator and a happy warrior with a great sense of humor — a worthy heir to Paul Wellstone.

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