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Franken Widens Lead Over Coleman

Updated: 4:36 p.m.Comedian Al Franken (D) extended his lead over former Sen. Norm Coleman (R) in the ongoing Minnesota Senate recount on Tuesday as previously unopened absentee ballots were opened and counted. After going through more than 350 ballots, Franken increased his lead over Coleman by 87 votes — increasing his winning margin to 312 votes, up from the 225 votes after the initial hand recount.There are still legal issues to be resolved in recount court, but Coleman can no longer gain enough votes to overtake Franken. The three-judge panel is expected to rule on those matters, plus which candidate lawfully received the most votes, in the next few days. “While the margin may not be set, the final result is no longer in doubt,— Franken attorney Marc Elias told reporters on Tuesday. Ben Ginsberg, the lead attorney for Coleman’s campaign, appeared to concede that the Minnesota panel would ultimately declare victory for Franken. He told reporters that an appeal to the state Supreme Court would be filed within the statutorily required 10 days following the panel’s final ruling.“The Minnesota Supreme Court is a supreme court for a reason,— Ginsberg said. “As I read other rulings by these judges, they are indeed inquiring minds, and will see the need to delve into problems in the system.—If Coleman’s case fails before the state Supreme Court, he can try to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court — although Elias said the nation’s highest court has rarely taken up this kind of appeal for a recount case in recent years. Ginsberg declined to directly address whether Coleman would appeal to the Supreme Court should he be rebuffed by Minnesota’s highest court. Democratic leaders in Washington, D.C., could technically move to seat Franken at any point, even if he does not have an official certification from the state. But Republicans have threatened to filibuster such a move, and Democrats have shown some willingness to hold off on installing Franken until after the panel of judges issues its ruling.Lauren W. Whittington and David M. Drucker contributed to this report.

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