Monday, January 05, 2009

Franken wins, Coleman moves to contest

The Minnesota state canvassing board has officially certified Al Franken as the winner of the Minnesota U.S. Senate race. His opponent, Norm Coleman, is now moving to contest the outcome of the election. While this is the only move left for Coleman, it's a bad move for Republicans.

Coleman's decision to contest the results of a two-month long recount will rightly be seen as that of a poor loser who can't accept reality. The decision of key Republican Senators to meddle in this election will rightly be seen as more Republican obstructionism and a refusal to accept the outcome of a democratic election.

In the short run, as a practical matter, Franken's election makes little difference. There is hardly any difference between having 58 votes in the Senate (without Franken) or 59 votes (with Franken). What Franken's election does do is place the Democrats one closer to their goal of 60 votes in the Senate in 2010, which would give them a decisive majority and make it possible for them to pass the Democratic agenda over the heads of Senate Republicans.

By obstructing Franken's win for a short period of time Republicans gain nothing. Republicans will be able to filibuster whether or not Franken takes a seat in the Senate now, or two months from now. What Republicans lose by blocking Franken temporarily is potentially far more serious. Now is not the moment in American History to be perceived as an obstructor. Now is not the time to stand in the way of reform.

John Cornyn and Mitch McConnell are not up for re-election in 2010. Let's see if they can get all of the Senate Republicans up for election in 2010 to step in front of a bus in order to delay Al Franken for a paltry two months. By going too far to save Coleman's already lost seat, the Republicans may trigger a backlash against GOP obstruction hand the Democrats another 1 or 2 seats in 2010.

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