FREE SPEECH ZONE | A Minnesota voice on Senator Al Franken

Let me tell you how this looks from the progressive, social justice, anti-war and election integrity activists right here, you know, in Minnesota. Al Franken for Senator is a sad pathetic joke. Big part of the story that has been missed was that there was another candidate who picked up 15% of the votes. Dean Barkley of the Independence Party, which is still a major party in Minnesota. I tried to be on the ballot but was unable to gain ballot access, which is an interesting, undemocratic story all by itself. Continue Reading

Coleman’s silence suggests new route to Senate; CEO talks like he’s still there

Reading between the lines suggests that Norm Coleman’s sights are firmly set on starting a federal-court fight to win his return to the U.S. Senate seat — and that at least one local corporate leader thinks he’s still occupying that seat. One of the more interesting aspects of the reply brief that Coleman filed at the Minnesota Supreme Court Friday is what it didn’t say. As the Politico observes, the former senator had nothing to say in response to a major point that Democratic rival Al Franken made in his brief: that the high court should direct Gov. Tim Pawlenty to issue an election certificate as soon as the state’s judiciary is done with Coleman’s appeal. That silence could mean Coleman is ready to bow out if he loses his current appeal (wrong, says a staffer). Or, Coleman could be readying a request for an injunction from the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent Pawlenty from issuing Franken the certificate he would need to take Coleman’s old seat in the Senate. Continue Reading

Coleman cites media in plea to use campaign cash for civil suits

Norm Coleman used media coverage of his dealings with friend and benefactor Nasser Kazeminy to argue to the Federal Election Commission that he should be able to spend campaign cash to fight two lawsuits that implicate him in a cash-funneling scheme. Coleman’s plea uses the media in two ways: first, as proof that the lawsuits — and thus his expenses — are political, not personal; and second, to argue that campaign funds should pay for lawyers’ time dealing with media inquiries into the matter. Coleman’s filing (8.4 MB pdf) includes copies of two Minnesota Independent stories among seven clips from media outlets:
Minnesota Independent, “Advocacy group calls for investigations in ‘DonorGate,’” Nov. 12, 2008 (Exhibit F) Minnesota Independent, “Texas lawsuit naming Coleman should proceed quickly, lawyer says,” Jan. 14, 2009 (Exhibit D) TPM Muckraker, “Taking stock of the Coleman-Kazeminy charges,” Nov. Continue Reading

Ventura: Coleman’s a “hypocrite”

Jesse Ventura called Norm Coleman a “hypocrite” last night for having advised Al Franken to concede to Coleman, then failing to take his own advice once the Republican fell behind in the Senate vote-count. The former Independence Party governor made the remark on CNN’s “Larry King Live.” That’s the same show on which the renowned religion-ridiculer announced last summer that he might challenge Coleman and Franken — but only (he added, tongue in cheek) if “God sent me to file” for the office. Here’s Ventura on LKL (via City Pages’ Blotter). It’s Jesse, so he talks about waterboarding Dick Cheney and lots of other stuff, too:
Continue Reading

Specter backpedals on Coleman support: ‘I conclusively misspoke’

Perhaps sensing that it might be impolitic to cheer on a member of the party he just left, Republican-turned-Democrat Sen. Arlen Specter says his statement, revealed Tuesday, that Norm Coleman will prevail in the battle for Minnesota’s second senate seat, was a mistake. Outside the Senate chamber yesterday, he said, “In the swirl of moving from one caucus to another, I have to get used to my new teammates. I’m ordinarily pretty correct in what I say. I’ve made a career of being precise. I conclusively misspoke.”
Who’s he backing now? Continue Reading

Specter switches, making 60 Democrats in Senate — with Franken

Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter announced today that he is switching from the Republican to the Democratic Party and will run for re-election as a Democrat in 2010. That means Minnesota’s empty U.S. Senate seat could become the Democrats’ sixtieth — the number needed to break a Republican filibuster. Specter’s move increases the pressure enormously on Minnesota officials in a position to control the outcome of the disputed Senate election between Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken. Five state Supreme Court justices begin reading briefs this week in Coleman’s appeal of a lower court’s finding that Franken won the 2008 election by 312 votes. Gov. Tim Pawlenty is responsible for issuing the election certificate required for being seated in the U.S. Senate — and he has made statements indicating he might apply his own decision-making to the situation, even after a state Supreme Court ruling. Continue Reading

And then there were two? Recusals in Coleman case could whittle state high court below quorum

Pinch hitters could be called up to help the Minnesota Supreme Court handle Norm Coleman’s election-contest appeal if more justices recuse themselves. Two of the seven high-court justices have already said they won’t deliberate on the case. That’s because Chief Justice Eric Magnuson and Associate Justice G. Barry Anderson served on the State Canvassing Board that oversaw the statewide recount between former Sen. Coleman and his Democratic challenger, Al Franken. Now Continue Reading

Court: Franken won, and Minnesotans “should be proud of their election system”

Franken won. That’s the conclusion of the 68-page ruling handed down Monday evening by the three-judge recount court, completing their work. They wrote:
The overwhelming weight of the evidence indicates that the November 4, 2008 election was conducted fairly, impartially, and accurately. [Citations omitted] … After seven weeks of trial, the factual record is devoid of any allegations of fraud, tampering, or security breaches on Election Day, during the recount process, or during the election contest.To the contrary, the genereal election resulted in a “fair expression” of the voters of Minnesota. Continue Reading

Pawlenty hems, haws on if he’ll OK new senator after state high court rules

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. var mnindyHeadline = “MORE FROM”; var mnindyHeadline2 = “Michigan Messenger”;
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. Continue Reading