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Coleman to Brief Key Supporters on His Battle Plan

Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) is scheduled to hold a briefing this afternoon for his key downtown supporters at National Republican Senatorial Committee headquarters, regarding his ongoing battle with Al Franken (D). And a memo prepared by Coleman’s camp suggests the North Star State could be without its second Senator for some time.According to Republican sources close to Coleman, he remains strongly committed to pursuing his case in state and possibly federal court. Coleman, who is trying to overcome a 225-vote deficit, believes that Minnesota’s expansive election law is on his side and that he will eventually prevail in his effort to a second term. Joining Coleman at the NRSC will be his attorney, Ben Ginsberg.“He believes that he won the race and won’t concede until there is a fair and accurate accounting of all properly registered voters or a new election is held, whichever is cleaner,— said one GOP source. “If he wanted to protect his political future he would drop it, but this is about justice to him, not a political seat.—Coleman will hold today’s briefing partly because he wants to counter the public perception that Tuesday’s ruling by a state judicial panel puts his legal case on shaky ground and is unlikely to net positive results. The Coleman camp is circulating talking points to that effect. Among the talking-points memorandum’s main arguments is that Tuesday’s decision — along with previous rulings by the three-judge panel — disenfranchises thousands of Minnesota voters, leaving Coleman no choice but to pursue his challenge to the state Supreme Court, regardless of the additional rulings that are expected in the coming days from the same panel.“We intend to pursue appropriate appeals if necessary to ensure that Minnesota voters are enfranchised and given full protection of their rights,— reads the memo.The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is accusing Coleman and Senate Republicans of playing politics at the expense of what is in Minnesota’s best interests.“Republicans have made it clear they will hold this Senate seat hostage in order to pursue their political agenda — at the hefty expense of Minnesota having full representation in Congress,— DSCC spokesman Eric Schultz said Thursday.Coleman led by about 700 votes the day after the Nov. 4 contest. The narrow margin triggered state-mandated automatic recounts, after which Franken ended up 225 votes ahead. Because Coleman’s term expired when the 110th Congress ended and no winner has been certified, one of Minnesota’s Senate seats remains vacant three months into the 111th.Coleman is asking the state to allow 1,350 rejected absentee ballots to be added to the vote tally, on the grounds that Franken has illegally benefited from the counting of additional ballots from Democratic strongholds. The three-judge panel ruled Tuesday that only up to 400 of those might be counted, a decision that was considered a victory for Franken. Senate Democratic leaders sounded confident this week that Franken would ultimately be certified the winner. In fact, they declined to criticize Coleman for pursuing his challenge in state court, saying he should be afforded that right, which is clearly provided for under Minnesota law. Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) has declined to certify Franken, believing Coleman has a case; Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie (D) has indicated he believes Franken should be certified.“No one should have to go through what [Franken] is going through and what the state of Minnesota is going through. But it looks like it’s nearing the end of the Minnesota chapter when their courts will have the last word,— Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Wednesday. “I hope that at that point that fair-minded people will prevail, that the governor and secretary of state will step forward and give the state of Minnesota the two Senators that they need.—

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