It's been 225 days since the November 4th election, when Minnesotans first went to the polls to select their representative in the United States Senate. It's been another 165 days since January 3rd rolled around, when all of the other 2008 winners were sworn into office. But still, almost six months into the new year, residents of the Land of 10,000 Lakes await the seating of their second Senator. Despite setback after setback and an all-but-closed window of opportunity for victory, former Republican Senator Norm Coleman presses on in a Quixotic quest to keep his Democratic challenger, former commedian Al Franken, from taking his seat in the US Senate.
It's becoming challenging to find any credible source that'd still willing to go on record saying that Coleman has any shot at victory. After the Board of Elections called the contest for Franken, Coleman took his fight to the courts for an extremely elongated, but so far highly unsuccessful litigation process. Coleman lost at the trial level in state court, but appealed to the appellate court, where he once again was defeated. He then took his fight to the Minnesota Supreme Court. Coleman's lawyers have pledged to take their case all the way to the US Supreme Court, no matter how much time or money it takes.
In the meantime, the national GOP has been pouring money into Coleman's legal coffers, and its easy to see why: every day that Republicans can keep Al Franken out of the Senate is another day that Republicans can deny Democrats the 60 votes needed to push key legislation unfettered through the Senate. That became especially important when Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter switched parties, giving Democrats 59 total votes. With Franken, a Democratic coalition could tackle major initiatives for the new Obama White House, from health care reform to other broad, sweeping plans for the economy and infrastructure that have become the subject of viscious partisan battles in recent years.
What's intriguing is that for a brief moment during the recount process when Coleman was still ahead, the beleagured Senator publicly urged Franken not to burden the voters of Minnesota with a lengthy recount process. And yet, here we are, nearly six months later, with nothing but a continued fight to show for the vat amount of time and money spent on this contest. What's evenmore interesting is that when the Coleman-Franken showdown is compared to another famous recount process- the Bush-Gore melee of 2000- it was Republicans who were publicly condemning Democrat Al Gore's efforts to have the courts weigh in on his election to the presidency.
The process has been frought with hypocrisy from the beginning, but perhaps more dishearteningly, the people of Minnesota have become ensnared in a political wrestling match, with Republicans unwilling to release them as long as they can take advantage of the situation in a partisan stalling tactic.
Franken's inevitable seating in the Senate is rapidly approaching, though it seems it has been for quite ime. Analysts began declaring Coleman's hopes to be dead as early as February. But either Coleman hasn't gotten the news, or the GOP has- and it just doesn't care.