After being dealt a serious blow today by the Minnesota state Canvassing board, who, much to the ire of Team Franken, refused to re-examine rejected absentee ballots, Al Franken’s band of merry men were forced to regroup, but vowed to continue their fight in a press conference.
According to Marc Elias, Franken’s lead recount attorney, the protracted legal battle for Norm Coleman’s senate seat will indefinitely continue. Elias, whose comments were first reported by Talking Points Memo’s Eric Kleefeld, signaled their readiness to take their fight to, of all places, the United States Senate:
There are a number of ways this can happen, whether it is at the county level, before the state canvassing board, before the courts of Minnesota, or before the United States Senate, we do not know," said Elias -- but they will see to it that every vote is counted.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid echoed Elias’ sentiments – a stark reversal of opinion from his own 1988 recount – in a statement today from his US Senate office, saying “Today's decision by the Minnesota Canvassing Board not to count certain absentee ballots is cause for great concern.”
Reid’s politically motivated endorsement of Franken’s intentions point to the possibility that senior Democrats, if called upon, would support the Franken campaign’s move to hijack the recount process and move for Senate intervention.
Of course, Reid knows a thing or two about recounts and possible senate intervention, though he opposed both in 1998 after being declared the winner in Nevada’s 2nd closest election to date. Reid characterized recounts as both a waste of time and money. "If they [now-Senator John Ensign] want a recount, more power to them. It won't change the vote,” he said in an interview with the AP. Adding, “It's a big waste of money.” Isn’t it amazing what 10 years can do?
Despite Reid’s flawed (and ever-changing) interpretation, recounts are not partisan tools to bolster majorities. If the Democratic leadership holds dear the sanctity of the electoral process, they would do well to not inject partisanship in a non-partisan process.
"The recount process in Minnesota is being handled by Minnesotans, not D.C. politicians," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “Neutrality and distance from the Minnesota recount is particularly important for Senators on the Senate Rules Committee who would need to remain neutral if the election results are considered by the committee.”
Minnesotans are appropriately handling the situation, and Beltway intervention, as Franken and Reid propose, stand to run roughshod the recount underway in the North Star State.