June 2009

Franken speaks: “It is time to bring this state together.”

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Minutes ago, Senator-elect Al Franken walked down the steps of his downtown Minneapolis townhouse and made the final, and very brief, victory speech of the 2008 Senate campaign. With his wife Franni standing behind him, Franken noted that he had gotten a “very gracious call” from Norm Coleman. “We agreed that it is time to bring this state together.”

“It was a very gracious call. He said it was a very hard fought campaign. I said, ‘Norm, it couldn’t have been closer.’”

What he was thinking during Coleman’s call: “This is nice. This is a nice way to end this.”

Emotions:”Thrilled and honored by the faith Minnesotans have placed in me” but also “humbled” by the closeness of the election and the “enormity” of the tasks ahead of him.

Lesson learned: “I won by 312 votes, so I really have to earn the trust of the people who didn’t vote for me.”

Next stop: up to the Iron Range for some parades

Priorities: health care, education, energy, to “restore” the nation’s standing in the world and “put people to work at home.”

Committee assignments: 1) Health, Education, Labor and Pension, 2) Judiciary, 3) Indian Affairs, 4) Aging.

What’s he been doing the past eight months:”We’ve been doing a lot. I’ve been going back and forth to Washington. I have a staff in place. I can hit the ground, if not running, trotting.”

What else he’s been doing: raising money, having people over to dinner who can help him get things done in Washington

After 15 minutes, the new senator and his wife trotted back up the steps and through the green door of the townhouse.

Here’s Franken’s prepared statement:

We have a lot of work to do in Washington, but that’s why I signed up for the job in the first place. When we started this campaign way back in February 2007, I said that Americans have never backed away from tough challenges, and Minnesotans have always led the way.
Working with our fantastic senior Senator, Amy Klobuchar, I’m going to fight hard to put people to work, improve education, make Minnesota the epicenter of a new renewable energy economy, and make quality health care accessible and affordable for all Minnesotans.
No matter whether you voted for me, or for Senator Coleman, or for Senator Barkley, or whether you voted at all, I want the people of Minnesota to know that I’m ready to work for all of you, and that I’m committed to being a voice for all Minnesotans in the U.S. Senate.

Coleman concedes, Pawlenty to sign election certificate today, to-do list from Obama

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

In a 15-minute news conference, looking relaxed and upbeat, Norm Coleman congratulated Al Franken, reminisced about his 6-year term and the “longest election in Minnesota history” and didn’t discuss the details of the rejected legal challenge.

“We have reached the point where further litigation damages the unity of our state,” Coleman said. “I congratulate Al Franken in his victory in his election.”

“The bottom line is that’s history. I’m not looking back… We are a nation of laws, not men and women. The court has spoken.”

Coleman on his future: “I’m considering whether I can do a better job of catching fish in the next couple of days… I haven’t made a decision yet about the future.”
On his state of mind: “I’ve had a lot of time to process this election, to think about the past and look to the future, and really have a sense of peace of where things are at.”

On the opinion: “the ruling surprised me. I thought we had a better case.”

Special thanks: Sen. Amy Klobuchar. “The good thing for Al Franken is that he’s got Amy Klobuchar by his side.”

Stuff he’ll remember: Constituent service, such as helping people with international custody cases. “It is the people things.” Policy: United Nations oversight, energy independence and renewables. “I’m going to continue to be involved in those discussions.”

Moments later, Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s office issued the following statement:

“The Minnesota Supreme Court has today addressed the issues surrounding the accuracy and integrity of our election system during the 2008 U.S. Senate race in Minnesota.  In light of that decision and Senator Coleman’s announcement that he will not be pursuing an appeal, I will be signing the election certificate today as directed by the court and applicable law.

“I would like to thank Senator Coleman for his service.  As state solicitor general, Mayor of Saint Paul and United States Senator, he has been an extraordinary leader and public servant for Minnesota.

“I also want to congratulate Al Franken and wish him well as he serves the people of Minnesota.”

President Obama offered this to-do list for Minnesota’s new junior senator:

“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.”


Gov. Pawlenty’s office to issue statement right after Coleman’s news conference concludes

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

It all sounds very carefully choreographed – let the dance begin

Minnesota GOP: Ruling “wrongly disenfranchised thousands”

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Statement from Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman-elect Tony Sutton, posted on the Minnesota Republican Party web site

Today’s ruling wrongly disenfranchised thousands of Minnesotans who deserve to have their votes counted.  Alongside Senator Coleman, the Republican Party of Minnesota has fought to make sure every vote counts and all voters are treated fairly and uniformly.  As we move forward, our deeply flawed election system must be dramatically improved to ensure our state’s elections are fair, accurate and reliable.

Fight on or concede? Coleman to speak at his home in St. Paul at 3 p.m. CDT

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Perhaps that explains Franken’s decision to push back his press appearance by 45 minutes.

Democrats’ reactions to Franken decision: White House “pleased,” and more

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

“Pleased,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs (Politico)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada):

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.

Sen. Robert Menendez, (D-NJ), Chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee:

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.

DNC Chairman Tim Kaine:

On behalf of the Democratic National Committee, I congratulate Al Franken on his election to the United States Senate.  Senator-Elect Franken must be seated as soon as possible.  The people of Minnesota rightfully elected Al Franken to serve in the Senate and there is far too much work to be done for the state and the nation to drag this process on any longer.

Today’s ruling from the Minnesota Supreme Court marks the end of the line for Norm Coleman’s legal battle. For too long, Minnesotans have been denied their proper representation in Congress while Norm Coleman pursued his political ambitions.  In light of today’s decision, Norm Coleman should concede and Governor Pawlenty should sign the election certificate which Al Franken is entitled to, and which he pledged to do upon guidance from the court.  Doing so will finally put this saga to an end and give Minnesotans their full voice in the U.S. Senate.

Court victory says Franken is entitled to an election certificate, but it didn’t order one to be issued

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Minnpost’s Eric Black noted that despite its unambiguous decision, the Supremes didn’t order the issuance of an election certificate, required for Franken to be seated in the Senate. The New York Times’ “The Caucus” blog made a similar observation:

Some legal experts already are pointing out that the Minnesota Supreme Court did not issue a directive ordering Governor Pawlenty to sign the certificate. And there is, according to legal experts, a rehearing period of 10 days, under the Minnesota judges’ ruling.

First filibuster: Franken news conference pushed back to 4:15 p.m.

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

No explanation given for the sudden about-face

Next stop, if Coleman doesn’t concede: the U.S. Supreme Court

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

From Politico’s Manu Raju:

The question now is whether the incumbent Republican senator will petition the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case — and if Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty would sign an election certificate in the interim — potentially prolonging a final decision for months. Doing so also would force Coleman to raise significantly more funds to keep his court challenge going. In its final line of the ruling, the state Supreme Court said Franken is “entitled” under Minnesota law to “receive the certificate election as United States senator from the state of Minnesota.”

Franken to talk about Supreme Court victory at 3:30 p.m. CDT

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Al Franken is scheduled to address the growing thicket of cameras, microphones and notebooks in downtown Minneapolis


This is a place where open-minded critical thinkers of all political persuasions encounter information and arguments that both support and challenge their preconceptions. The goal is not to eliminate differences but to narrow and clarify them. We begin with a bedrock agreement that the search for insight and clarity is important, serious - and fun.

We ask commenters to be civil and substantive and, if possible, good humored. We reserve the right to delete comments that disregard this request.

Follow The Big Question on Twitter Do you use Twitter? Follow The Big Question.