In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Speaking of Democratic votes, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), who has been hospitalized for weeks, has been released to recuperate at home.

Though it's unclear when exactly he'll be able to return to the Senate to vote, his absence--like Al Franken's--has complicated Democratic efforts to accomplish key goals, including confirming DOJ-nominee Dawn Johnsen.

Progressive group People for the American Way released this statement from their president, Michael B. Keegan:

It's taken quite a while, but Senator Franken's victory is now official. That's good news for Minnesotans and for all of us. Governor Pawlenty has said he would certify the election results, and he should do so immediately.

Senator Franken's victory should finally put to rest GOP threats to filibuster President Obama's agenda. With any luck, Senate Republicans will take this opportunity to stop obstructing the important work that needs to get done for the country and actually start helping to get it done.

The Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party has released this statement from chair Brian Melendez and associate chair Donna Cassutt, on Al Franken's victory today at the Minnesota Supreme Court:

"We offer our heartfelt congratulations once again to Senator-elect Franken, his wife Franni and their family. Throughout this long process, Minnesotans have seen what kind of senator Al Franken will be: determined, patient, thoughtful and ready to work for our state. Now it is time for the senator-elect to be seated so that Minnesota is once again fully represented in the United States Senate.

"The Supreme Court's ruling also proves that Minnesotans can take pride in our election process. The close vote, the long recount and the ensuing election contest may have confounded other states. But Minnesota has shown the nation that our system is meticulous, transparent and fair.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has released this statement on Al Franken's victory at the Minnesota Supreme Court:

"I congratulate Senator-elect Al Franken, the next Senator from the state of Minnesota.

"The people of Minnesota will now finally get the brilliant and hardworking new senator they elected in November and the full representation they deserve. After all the votes have been counted and recounted, the Minnesota Supreme Court has made the final determination that Minnesotans have chosen Al Franken to help their state and our country get back on track.

"The Senate looks forward to welcoming Senator-elect Franken as soon as possible. He will play a crucial role as we work to strengthen our economy, ensure all Americans can access and afford quality health care, make our country more energy independent, confirm the President's outstanding nominee to the Supreme Court, and tackle the many other challenges we face.

"I once again encourage Governor Pawlenty to respect the votes of his constituents and the decisions of his state's highest court. He should put politics aside, follow his state's laws and finally sign the certificate that will bring this episode to an end."

The big interest groups are already starting to react to the big news from Minnesota, where Al Franken's victory in the 2008 Senate race has just been reaffirmed by the state Supreme Court. The Change to Win labor federation came out with this statement, calling for Franken to be seated:

WASHINGTON, DC -- Change to Win chair and SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger issued the following statement on today's decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court that Al Franken is entitled to a certificate of election as Minnesota's next U.S. Senator:

"Now that the Minnesota Supreme Court has made its final ruling, it is time to recognize Al Franken as the duly elected Senator from Minnesota. As is appropriate after any extremely close election, Minnesotans took the time to conduct an extensive and thorough recount process, but now that all reasonable legal options have been exhausted, Minnesota deserves its full representation in Congress. We call on Governor Pawlenty to pursue the state's best interests and end this contest instead of favoring those who would allow the recount to continue for purely partisan reasons.

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AFL-CIO President John Sweeney is out with a statement on the Supreme Court's verdict in favor of Al Franken. "[I]t is essential that Minnesotans have both their Senators to represent them," Sweeney said, "and we urge Governor Pawlenty to immediately sign the election certificate so Franken can get to work."

"The seating of Senator Franken is also a crucial step towards passing the Employee Free Choice Act," Sweeney added. "We urge the Senate to move forward swiftly on this crucial piece of legislation as well as health care reform, financial re-regulation and all the crucial issues facing working families."

You can read the entire statement below the fold.

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Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, has released this statement on Al Franken's victory at the Minnesota Supreme Court:

"Congratulations to Senator-elect Franken for today's courtroom victory affirming his electoral victory. As we've seen over the past 238 days, no matter how many times Norm Coleman goes to court, the result of the election never changes: Al Franken earned more votes than Norm Coleman. Al Franken was elected to the Senate and he ought to be able to get to work for the people of Minnesota. We've always said that Norm Coleman deserved his day in court, and he got eight months. Now we expect Governor Pawlenty to do the right thing, follow the law, and sign the election certificate. From health care to the Supreme Court to getting our economy moving again, the challenges facing us are complex and we need Al Franken in the Senate. In this historic and urgent moment in our history, Minnesotans have gone long enough without full representation. Al Franken will be an critical voice on the issues before us and it's time to let him get to work."

The Minnesota Supreme Court has handed down its much-expected ruling in the heavily-litigated Minnesota Senate race from 2008 -- and it's a unanimous one -- deciding against Republican former Sen. Norm Coleman's appeal of his defeat in the election trial and affirming the lower court's verdict that Democratic comedian Al Franken is the legitimate winner of the race.

The courts finds that "Al Franken received the highest number of votes legally cast and is entitled under Minn. Stat. § 204C.40 (2008) to receive the certificate of election as United States Senator from the State of Minnesota." This means that when Franken is ultimately seated, the Democrats will have 60 seats and be able to beat any Republican filibuster if they stay completely united (though good luck with that, obviously.)

It's been seven and a half months since Election Day, and five and a half months since the seat went vacant after Coleman's term expired -- but the state's process of recounts and litigation is now over, barring the unlikely event of a higher authority stepping in and forcing them to do more. Franken has won by 312 votes, out of roughly 2.9 million -- a difference of 0.011%.

The big question now is what comes next. Will Coleman concede, or will he take another path -- as national GOP leaders like Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) have urged -- and take this to federal courts, where he might try to get an injunction against Franken receiving a certificate of election? And if Franken does get his certificate, will the Senate GOP attempt to filibuster its acceptance?

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Looks like Bill Kristol read Todd Pardum's much-ballyhooed Sarah Palin story today, in which several faceless McCain campaigners talk about the, um, complexities of working with the Alaska governor.

Kristol, ever the Palin defender, took issue in a blog post on The Weekly Standard and zeroed in on one McCain aide. Pardum had written, "Some top aides worried about her mental state: was it possible that she was experiencing postpartum depression?"

So Kristol is naming names: "In fact, one aide who raised this possibility in the course of trashing Palin's mental state to others in the McCain-Palin campaign was Steve Schmidt."

Oh no, he didn't!


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