MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) — A state election board on Monday will announce Democrat Al Franken has defeated Republican incumbent Norm Coleman in Minnesota’s U.S. Senate race, state officials told CNN Sunday.

A board will say Al Franken won the U.S. Senate race by 225 votes, Minnesota's secretary of state says.

A board will say Al Franken won the U.S. Senate race by 225 votes, Minnesota’s secretary of state says.

The canvassing board on Monday will say a recount determined Franken won by 225 votes, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie told CNN.

However, Coleman’s campaign, which contends the recount should have included about 650 absentee ballots it says were improperly rejected in the initial count, has indicated it will challenge the certification.

Coleman campaign manager Cullen Sheehan said his team believes the recount process was broken and that “the numbers being reported will not be accurate or valid.”

“The effort by the Franken campaign, supported by the secretary of state, to exclude improperly rejected absentee ballots is indefensible and disenfranchises hundreds of Minnesota voters,” Sheehan said.

After the results are certified, Coleman’s campaign will have seven days to file a challenge.

The initial count from the November 4 election put Coleman, a first-term senator, 215 votes ahead of Franken — known for his stint on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” and as a former talk-show host on progressive radio network Air America.

The slim margin triggered an automatic recount.

During the recount, Franken’s campaign alleged that thousands of absentee ballots had been improperly rejected and asked that they be counted. The state’s Supreme Court eventually ordered that rejected absentee ballots be counted if local officials and each campaign could agree that the selected ballots were rejected mistakenly.

About 950 initially rejected absentee ballots were counted Saturday after all parties agreed on them. However, Coleman’s campaign said about 650 other rejected absentee ballots — many of them from pro-Coleman areas — also were improperly rejected and should have been counted.

The Coleman campaign has also alleged that more than 100 ballots may have been accidentally counted twice and may have unfairly benefited Franken.

“When a candidate is leading because of double counted votes, and votes that get counted even when ballots don’t exist, it clearly means that a [post-election challenge] is the only likely remedy to ensure a fair outcome,” Sheehan said.

Franken’s attorney, Marc Elias, in a statement said: “The next step is the canvass board’s meeting tomorrow, where we have every expectation they will declare that Al Franken won this election.”

Deputy Secretary of State Jim Gelbmann, who oversaw Saturday’s tallying of the 950 improperly rejected absentee ballots, said the only thing left for the canvassing board to do Monday is certify the numbers. The board’s meeting will convene at 2:30 p.m.

“Candidates may have objections or suggestions or comments that they want to make,” Gelbmann said. “I would assume the canvassing board will allow that as long as they’re brief.”

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York and chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, issued a statement Sunday declaring Franken the winner and expressing confidence Franken would remain on top following any legal battle.

“There is no longer any doubt who will be the next senator from Minnesota,” Schumer said. “Even if all the ballots Coleman claims were double counted or erroneously added were resolved in his favor, he still wouldn’t have enough votes to win.”

Schumer also said it is “crucial” Minnesota’s second seat in the Senate not go empty, implying Franken should be seated when the rest of the Senate convenes to be sworn in Tuesday.

Minnesota’s other seat is held by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat.

Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has pledged a GOP filibuster if the Democrat-controlled Senate attempts to seat Franken before all legal battles play out and before Minnesota’s Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, can co-sign the secretary of state’s certificate.

Ritchie said the state has no problem with not having two sworn-in senators Tuesday until the process is completed


Huffington Post reports:

GOP Group In Panic Over Possible Franken

Update: 7:35 Central

Franken projected to win by 35-50 votes.

Al Franken made a campaign stop in Little Falls, Minnesota, today.  Our special Fish Wrap correspondent Black Molly was on the scene to get the story.  Here is her report.



Al Franken in Little Falls, MN  Fish Wrap card with Al Franken’s signature 

Photo on the left:  Al Franken greeting voters at the Royal Cafe in Little Falls, MN.  The woman seated facing the camera is Cathy Adamek.

Photo on the right:  An official Fish Wrap postcard signed by Al Franken.

Click on photos for a larger view.


Let me say right out of the starting gate that Al Franken is punctual.  His website said that he would be in Little Falls, MN, at the Royal Cafe at 11:30 p.m. and, by golly, he was.  Al is running as a Democratic candidate for a seat in the U.S. Senate.  He greeted sixty-plus Morrison County residents personally at today’s event – literally.  As soon as he arrived, he systematically made his way around the room and shook hands with each person.  Even looked us in the eye, he did.

Once Al was through with hand-shaking, Bob Keeton, chair of the Morrison County DFL, formally introduced Al to the crowd.  When Al started speaking, the room was a-hush with people hanging on every word.  Al started his speech by talking about Mrs. Molin, his 4th grade teacher who has appeared in one of his television ads.  He said that the ad has gone viral, with people calling campaign headquarters trying to find her.  He told those assembled, “If Mrs. Molin plays her cards right, she’ll be a very wealthy woman,” because of the ad.

Al then proceeded to state his beliefs and the things he’ll work to accomplish when he becomes the next U.S. Senator from Minnesota.  (Notice that I didn’t use the word “if.”  This guy’s going all the way.)  He did this in a refreshingly concise, clear, and logical manner, covering a lot of issues in a fairly short time, and throwing in his signature satire to boot.  (I’m playing straight-man here because there’s not a chance in H-E-double hockey sticks that I’ll be able to communicate his humor.)

Al believes that No Child Left Behind and the large sizes of classes in schools have prevented teachers from teaching.  He wants to emphasize education during his time in the Senate because he believes a good education will allow us to compete in the global economy and help us to solve sticky societal problems.  He also wants to work on making college affordable again, saying that Pell grants used to cover 86% of the cost of a college education, whereas today, Pell grants only cover around 40%.

He said that if you want to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, “First you’ve got to have the boots.”  Government should assist people in getting those boots.

Al believes in the Second Amendment – the right to bear arms – which is a huge issue in Morrison County.

He wants to work for universal health care and cited these statistics from the World Health Organization:  The United States is ranked 37th among the nations of the world for the quality of our health care system and dead last for preventative medicine.  We can do better than that.

Al discussed how the current White House administration has been anti-science.  He will work to pass a law that states that the administration can’t change scientific reports without first getting the approval of scientists.  This topic morphed into a discussion on global warming, alternative energy sources, and green transportation.  Al believes in wind turbines, rail all over the state and electric cars.

Al is anti-torture and anti-invading-other-countries-for-no-good-reason.  He’s for our constitutional rights.

He wants us out of Iraq, but he wants us out in a thoughtful and responsible way.  He wants our foreign policy to be proactive and based on diplomacy.

Al said that this election, this period of time, is our Sputnik moment – a moment of truth in which we can turn this country around, undo what the current administration has done, and move on to better things.  He wants the United States to be the greatest country in the world once again.

I think Al Franken is well on his way to that goal.  After having lived with continually decreasing amounts of hope over this last seven or so years, Al Franken has given me something to be hopeful about again.   For that, he’s getting my vote.  (The punctuality doesn’t hurt either.)

Your Fish Wrap Correspondent,

Black Molly

Psssst!  Al Franken is scheduled to appear at the Royal Cafe in Little Falls this coming Saturday (February 2) at 11:00 a.m.  Spread the word.

You know, I wish the local DFL would quit hosting huge candidates like Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken at the Royal.  While I’m sure the restaurant owners like the extra business, the space isn’t big enough, there are too many tables in the way and not enough chairs, and the acoustics are lousy.

When Franken comes to town, be ready for standing room only.

Getting ready to do my impression of a sardine,

Phineas F. A. Pickerel