Gov. Tim Pawlenty says he might not sign an election certificate to seat Democrat Al Franken or Republican Norm Coleman in the U.S. Senate, even after the Minnesota Supreme Court is done with the disputed election.
“I also would want to look at what the courts did with the case in terms of leaving issues for potential appeal, the strength of those issues, how directly and effectively they addressed them,” Pawlenty told a Minnesota Public Radio call-in audience today “I’m not saying that I’m going to, or not going to, issue the certificate at that point. I just want to make sure I have all the facts in front of me before I made a decision like that.”
It’s the second time in a week that Pawlenty, a Republican and a trained attorney, said he plans to cast himself in the role of judicial critic once the courts issue final rulings on Coleman’s legal challenge to Franken’s recount win.
On April 8, Pawlenty told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that before he signed an election certificate, he would want to “see what the case would look like at that point, in terms of how harshly or strongly the issues have been decided or dealt with by the Minnesota Supreme Court.”
When Maddow asked whether he’d sign the certificate — which the state Supreme Court has said is his duty once the state courts are through with the case — Pawlenty replied: “It’s premature to say that, based on a number of factors. … We just need more information as to evaluating this case.”
Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has promised to provide the second required signature on an election certificate after the state Supreme Court takes action on an expected appeal from the election-contest court. “I assume we are both going to follow the order of the Minnesota Supreme Court” that a certificate should be issued “at the end of the state court process,” Ritchie said.
A decision is expected at any time from the three judges who presided over a seven-week trial of Coleman’s challenge to Franken 225-vote recount win. Last week, Franken’s margin increased to 312 after the judges allowed 351 previously uncounted absentee ballots. An appeal must be filed within 10 days of the election-contest court’s order.
Pawlenty said it could be “June or later” before the state courts complete the Coleman-Franken case.
Pawlenty, who reportedly ran a close second to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for Sen. John McCain’s vice-presidential pick last year, also replied to a question from MPR “Midday” host Gary Eichten today about whether he wants to be president. Pawlenty claimed not to have given it “any serious thought” and also wouldn’t say if he’ll run for a third term in 2010.