In it, but not of it. TPM DC

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!

When Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) announced that he would switch parties and run for re-election as a Democrat he all but forced Joe Torsella--former Deputy Mayor of Philadelphia--out of the race. Were it not for the likely candidacy of Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), that would have cleared the field for Specter, who would almost certainly have sailed to the Democratic nomination.

But Sestak didn't go the Torsella route. And so, the Democratic establishment--which immediately lined up behind Specter--has been forced to roll out the endorsements. The latest name on that list? Joe Torsella.

In my campaign I spoke often of the need for new ideas and a new approach in Washington. In the weeks since I ended my candidacy, I have spoken at great length with Senator Specter and watched his work in Washington to advance the President's agenda for change. I have become convinced that years of service do not preclude the ability to promote change; in fact, under the right circumstances, they enhance it. My conversations have convinced me that Arlen Specter will work hard to do just that on the issues most important to me and families across Pennsylvania.

According to Greg Giroux at Congressional Quarterly, Specter once hired Torsella's wife to serve as a counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee back when he was a Republican and the Republicans were in the majority.

Democratic House candidate Francine Busby (CA-50) has now sent out a new fundraising e-mail for the final day of the second quarter, trying to make lemonade out of her fundraiser from this past weekend, which ended when the San Diego Sheriff's Department raided the event and after somebody -- believed to have been a heckler who had shouted anti-gay slurs at the assembled crowd -- called in a noise complaint against the Dem event.

"It's the 11th hour to show that you have the courage and the commitment to stand with me against the strong forces that are gathering against us," Busby writes.

The fundraiser ended with a homeowner being arrested, and multiple people being pepper-sprayed. The deputies went all out, too, going so far as to bring in a helicopter to deal with a crowd of middle-aged Dems raising money for a local candidate!

"So what am I going to do about this travesty? Fight harder. Fight for the truth. Fight to defend our civil rights. Fight to defend free speech and Democracy," Busby adds (emphasis in the original). "I am going to fight even harder to stop this hateful intimidation. I hope that I can count on you to fight this battle with me."

Full e-mail after the jump. Special thanks to TPM reader SG.

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The Oklahoma legislature isn't a stranger to wacky right wing political posturing--but now, via Jonathan Turley, comes a doozy.

[W]hat caused the economic problems that caused the stimulus package that aroused Gov. Sanford? Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern has finally answered that question: our sins. Kern has drafted a resolution that puts the current economic crisis squarely on the backs of libertines and godless people who have produced a moral crisis. This includes Obama's refusal to "uphold the long held tradition of past presidents in recognition of our National Day of Prayer."

You can read the entire resolution below the fold. But the basic gist of it is that the country is suffering because it "has become a world leader in promoting abortion, pornography, same sex marriage, sex trafficking, divorce, illegitimate births, child abuse, and many other forms of debauchery." Good to know complex financial products had nothing to do with it.

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A new survey of New Jersey from Public Policy Polling (D) finds incumbent Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine trailing his Republican opponent, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, by a margin of 51%-41%.

To a great extent, this is a vote against the incumbent. Among the quarter of the electorate that doesn't know enough about Christie to have formed an opinion, Christie is leading by an even bigger margin of 48%-30%.

From the pollster's analysis: "There's not much doubt Jon Corzine's in a pretty big hole," said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. "If there's good news for the incumbent it's that about a third of voters say they could change their minds between now and November. He'll need a lot of folks to move over to his column if he's going to get reelected."

New Jersey is a deep-blue state, albeit with a large number of very reluctant Democratic voters, and has often shown a tendency of Dem candidates surging in the home stretch after attacking the conservatism of the Republicans. Corzine has a big job ahead of him if he wants to repeat that pattern.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has brought out a big name for the final rush of fundraising before the end of the second quarter tonight: Former Vice President Al Gore, who has written a new e-mail sent out to the DSCC's support list.

The e-mail reminds Dem supporters of the memory of 1994, when one-party Democratic rule of the White House and Capitol Hill was so abruptly overturned with a Republican mid-term landslide. After noting that the historic trend is for a president's party to lose seats in the mid-terms, Gore then asks recipients to imagine what it would mean if they can buck the trend and expand the already big margins.

"We could stop having absurd debates about whether or not global warming is real. We could get moving to ensure every man, woman, and child gets the health care they need," Gore writes. "We could put Americans back to work with investments in jobs and infrastructure and stop pretending that all economic problems can be solved with tax cuts for the super-rich."

Check out the full e-mail, after the jump.

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A source has leaked details to Politico of what reporters there describe as a "draft of HELP's likely public option proposal." Here are the key details:

The option would be one of the Gateway choices. It would follow the same rules as private plans for defining benefits, protecting consumers, and setting premiums that are fair and based on local costs....

The payment rates paid by the option would be no more than the local average private rates - but could be less. The Secretary would negotiate these rates.

Initial reports of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions process suggested that the committee's draft would call for a public option that paid providers Medicare rates plus about 10 percent--a robust plan which would have left a wide middle ground on the issue between that committee and the Senate Finance Committee. This leak doesn't rule that configuration out explicitly--but if it's accurate, then the committee's kicking the issue back over to the executive branch, and insisting only that the public plan operate on at least a level playing field with private insurers.

It's unclear whether this language will please freshman Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC)--the HELP Democrat whose reservations about the public option have forced the committee to modify their plan and delay it's roll out.

Still, the developments on that committee seem to have pleased SEIU president Andy Stern who last night wrote, "HELP Committee working hard on solid public option," on his Twitter feed.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the ranking GOP member on the Judiciary Committee, said yesterday that the New Haven firefighters case will come up at Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearing.

This case sharpens our focus on Judge Sotomayor's troubling speeches and writings, which indicate...that personal experiences and political views should influence a judge's decision. That theory is a breathtaking departure from the proper role of the American judge and will clearly be the subject of questioning at the upcoming hearing.

This case will only raise more questions in the minds of the American people concerning Judge Sotomayor's commitment to treat each individual fairly and not as a member of a group.

This idea sort of came and went a few weeks ago, but some legislators just can't let it go. According to the Associated Press, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME)--a potentially key moderate on the Senate Finance Committee--hasn't forsworn signing on to a health reform bill that includes a public option. But she's holding out to see it affixed to a "trigger mechanism," which would, in theory, give insurance companies a years-long window to lower costs on their own and only "trigger" the public option if they failed to do so.

"If you establish a public option at the forefront that goes head-to-head and competes with the private health insurance market ... the public option will have significant price advantages," Snowe said. But this was her argument against making the public option available as soon as the bill becomes law.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the committee's Democratic point man on the public plan, has basically ruled this option out, as has the health reform campaign Health Care for America Now. Their principles call for a public plan available "on day one."


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