As attorneys for Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken wrapped up their arguments in the Minnesota Senate recount trial Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) issued a statement saying the decision of the three-judge panel should be respected — opening the door to seating Franken if the case is decided in his favor.
“The Minnesota court’s ruling deserves respect and five million citizens of Minnesota deserve full representation in the U.S. Senate as soon as possible,— Reid said. “Norm Coleman wanted his day in court, and we respect that. He’s gotten seven weeks. We all await the outcome from the three-judge panel.—
With closing arguments completed Friday, the judges will now deliberate and then rule on which previously uncounted ballots will be allowed into the final tally, and then which candidate received the most legally cast votes in the 2008 election.
Franken led Coleman by 225 votes after a hand recount of the vote completed at the end of January — a final tally that Coleman has contested in court. Given the small number of votes that could potentially be added, it is unlikely that Coleman will be able to overcome Franken’s lead.
Coleman has said publicly that he is open to appealing the decision and exhausting his legal options.
But Democrats have said recently they see light at the end of the tunnel, and with Reid’s statement it appears likely they will move to seat Franken if the judges rule that he is the winner — even if he has not been officially certified because of ongoing legal challenges. Democratic Senate leaders can move to seat Franken at any time, since it is the prerogative of the Senate to determine its membership.