Monday, March 30, 2009


National Republican leaders are still taking a hard line on the question of pursuing appeals of the U.S. Senate recount in Minnesota that showed Democrat Al Franken to be the winner over Republican incumbent Norm Coleman.

Politico reports that Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the Republican campaign chief, is OK with a federal appeal process that could go on for years, during which Minnesota will continue to be limited to one senator.

If the state court decision goes against Coleman, and he is unsuccessful in appealing that to the state supreme court, I think Coleman should then concede the election to Franken. I say that, not because I want another Democratic senator, but because I want to head off a backlash against Republicans in Minnesota, and perhaps elsewhere.

If the state's Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty is perceived to be putting partisan considerations ahead of the state's interests, that could endanger both his position as one of the few remaining Republican officeholders in Minnesota, and his apparent hopes for national office.

Minnesota has tended to be sensitive about its reputation for above-board politics. I've been away from there for a couple of decades, but I'm guessing that attitude hasn't changed much.

Democrat Wendell Anderson was a very popular governor of Minnesota, until he engineered his own appointment to a U.S. Senate vacancy in 1976. When that Senate seat came up for election in 1978, Anderson lost in a huge landslide. His downfall also contributed to his party's loss of the governorship and the other U.S. Senate seat (in a special election necessitated by Hubert Humphrey's death) that same day.

The Republicans are currently much weaker in Minnesota than the Democrats (called the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party in that state) were in the run-up to the 1978 elections. But they could become even weaker, if the voters now render the same verdict of misbehavior against the Republicans, as they did to the DFL in 1978.

It's possible that the Republicans won't follow through on their tough talk. If they do plan to concede at some point, they would not want to signal that willingness in advance.

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