Today’s court ruling by a three-judge panel in Minnesota appears to be a fatal blow to Norm Coleman’s efforts to overcome a 225-vote deficit in his race against Al Franken.
The judges essentially said that only 400 votes were wrongly rejected, and many of those are said to favor Franken. Coleman had sought consideration of more than 1,000 ballots, so the court’s decision starts to make the mathematical odds very long that he can close the gap.
The battle over the seat has lasted longer than some Senate terms (Coleman’s predecessor, Dean Barkley, served two months after the death of Paul Wellstone). Although Coleman could appeal to the state Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court, at a certain point there will be a backlash as state residents realize they lack representation. But Republicans bore so much resentment at the Democrats for their swipes at the 2000 recount as illegitmate — including some quips from Franken himself — that I can’t help but think that the desire to let it all play out is a form of payback. If Coleman continues his challenge, it seems that the only thing that would halt his battle is a request from party leaders to let it go or from a depleted reserve of donations to his legal fund.