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Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele has released this statement on the final conclusion of the Minnesota Senate race, in which Democratic activist and comedian Al Franken defeated Republican Sen. Norm Coleman after a long process of recounting and litigation:

"I am deeply disappointed in the decision made by the state Supreme Court, and I share the frustration of Minnesota's voters. At the core of our democracy lies two concrete principles: No valid vote should go uncounted and all votes should be treated equally. Sadly, those principles were not adhered to during this election. While I would have proudly stood behind Norm Coleman had he chosen to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, I know that his decision to withdraw from this race was not an easy one, but one that he felt was the best decision for the people of Minnesota. For the last six years, Norm represented the people of Minnesota with distinction, earning a much deserved reputation as one of the hardest-working members of Congress. I, on behalf of all Republicans, thank him for his service and will miss his leadership in Washington."

TPMDC's update on the biggest legislative initiatives on the Hill:

  • Health Care: A staffer leaked some preliminary details of the public option Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee plan to include in their reform legislation. Those details imply a significant retreat from the bold plan the committee intended to offer at the outset of the process, but still leave room for a robust public insurance option. Still unknown: whether those details will be acceptable to Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) who's been unwilling up until now to accept a public option, and whose vote may be required to move the bill out of committee.


  • Senate politics: This doesn't really belong under the "legislative initiatives" rubric, but it will impact all of them, and much, much more. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Sen.-elect Al Franken, and Norm Coleman conceded defeat. Franken will likely be seated next week, becoming the Democrats' 60th caucus member--which, as we've detailed before, will change Senate politics and legislative math in a number of ways.

Here's a big part of former Sen. Norm Coleman's (R-MN) press conference today, conceding defeat to Democratic activist and comedian Al Franken in the much-litigated 2008 Minnesota Senate race:

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has released this statement on Sen.-elect Al Franken's (D-MN) victory:

"I would like to commend both Norm Coleman and Al Franken on a hard fought campaign. In particular, I would like to be among the first to welcome Al Franken to the United States Senate.

"This has been a long process and while both sides would have preferred a speedier outcome, full, fair and free elections are what make our nation great. That's why I have so much respect for Norm Coleman. I've known Norm not just as a friend and colleague, but as a devoted public servant who recognized that this legal challenge was not just about him. It was about making sure no Minnesotan was disenfranchised in this election.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has issued this statement, on former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) having conceded defeat to Democratic Sen.-elect Al Franken in the long-fought and long-litigated 2008 Minnesota Senate race:

"I know a thing or two about close elections, and I appreciate both that Norm Coleman fought hard throughout his race and recount, and that he is now stepping aside and letting the people of Minnesota have the full representation they deserve.

"I enjoyed my time working with Norm Coleman in the United States Senate, and wish him the best."

Our good friends at The Uptake report that Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) will sign Democratic Sen.-elect Al Franken's certificate of election today, now that Republican former Sen. Norm Coleman has conceded defeat after the state Supreme Court upheld Franken's super-narrow win.

Pawlenty was put in a tight spot, due to his position as a potential Republican presidential candidate and the possibility of further litigation by Coleman. But with Coleman's concession, Pawlenty has only to exercise a purely ministerial duty.

Franken won't be sworn in as a Senator until next week, because the Senate is not in session. But all the various legal issues that have surrounded this race, from the political to the legal and the most technical, have all been resolved.

Al Franken will be able to go to Washington next week, and be sworn into the Senate seat formerly held by his old friend, the late Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone.

President Obama has released this statement on Sen.-elect Al Franken's (D-MN) much-litigated and now final victory in the 2008 Minnesota Senate race:

"I look forward to working with Senator-Elect Franken to build a new foundation for growth and prosperity by lowering health care costs and investing in the kind of clean energy jobs and industries that will help America lead in the 21st century."





Who would have thought that something bizarre would happen when Al Franken ran for public office?

In a press conference just now, former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) has conceded defeat to the Democratic comedian Franken in the 2008 Senate race -- nearly eight months after Election Day, and six months after the seat went vacant when Coleman's single term had expired. Coleman said that further litigation would damage the state, and congratulated Sen.-elect Franken on his victory. He said his future plans in politics "are a subject for another day."

Coleman also said he would no longer contest the much-litigated matter of which previously-rejected absentee ballots should and should not be let into the count, for which both campaigns had picked out lists to argue over. "I'm not questioning what's counted and what's not counted. The Supreme Court has decided," he said. "We are a nation of laws and not men and women. Now that the court has spoken, it's time to move on and not look back."

Coleman said his phone call with Franken was civil. "It couldn't have been any closer and he understands, what his family has gone through, and what me and my family have gone through," said Coleman. "It was a very personal discussion. I congratulated him and wished him the best, and he responded in kind."

It's been a long and strange journey from there to here. Coleman had initially been ahead of the long-time Democratic activist and dirty comedian right after the election, seemingly winning by around 700 votes the day after the election. But then the state went through the standard process of having the counties all proofread their spreadsheets -- and it turned out he only led by 215.

Then the recount commenced, with ballots from malfunctioning machines or with markings that were too light to be scanned cutting into the lead. Then after the State Canvassing Board adjudicated the ballots that had been challenged by the campaigns for voter intent or illegal voter signatures (and most of these challenges from both sides were completely frivolous, designed to manipulate the totals), it was now Franken who was ahead by 49 votes. Then after extensive litigation on absentee ballot envelopes that had been rejected due to clerical errors by local officials, Franken was then up by 225 votes.

Then Coleman filed a lawsuit to contest the results, contending that a) ballots were let in for Franken that shouldn't have been, b) ballots for Coleman that should have been allowed were not, and c) damaged absentee ballots that had been duplicated ended up being counted twice, favoring Franken. After months and months of litigation, the three-member trial court rejected all of these claims -- and some more previously-rejected ballots that were put in only expanded Franken's victory to 312 votes.

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Lingering in the background of the health care debate in Congress has been the possibility that Democrats won't be able to get as much as they want from Republicans through the normal legislative process and will be forced to advance reform (or elements of reform) through the reconciliation process, which can't be filibustered. That may be a remote possibility, but it significantly changes the political dynamic on the Hill--in absence of this alternative route, meeting the expected 60 vote threshold in the Senate would become, to a greater extent than it already is, the guiding force behind the process.

But ever since Democratic leaders won a battle (with Republicans and conservatives within their own party) to keep the reconciliation option open, they've been notably silent about it, and completely unwilling to wield the threat publicly. Today, Robert Gibbs went as far as anybody I can recall in recent weeks--but he also held his fire.

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Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie (D) has released this statement on apparent Sen.-elect Al Franken's (D) victory at the Minnesota Supreme Court:

I thank the Minnesota Supreme Court, the three-judge election contest panel, the State Canvassing Board, local election officials, and all campaign staff and volunteers for their extraordinary efforts in bringing this U.S. Senate election to its conclusion.

This unanimous opinion of the Court affirms the accuracy and fairness of Minnesota's election laws and recount procedures. As required by Minnesota law, I will co-sign the election certificate as soon as it is issued by Governor Tim Pawlenty.


Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican and a potential presidential candidate, has not yet released a statement.

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