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Republicans Hold Firm to Block Seating of Franken

As former Sen. Norm Coleman (R) and comedian Al Franken (D) continued to argue Tuesday over Minnesota’s Senate seat, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) reaffirmed the GOP Conference’s commitment to filibustering any Democratic attempt to seat Franken.

Franken was declared the winner of the November election by a three-judge state panel Monday. The panel had been weighing Coleman’s challenge of the election results, which found Franken on top by a narrow margin after several recounts and canvasses of the vote. Coleman led by 700 votes the day after the Nov. 4 election but is currently trailing by at least 312 votes.

Coleman is appealing Monday’s ruling the Minnesota Supreme Court, and Cornyn vowed in an e-mail to NRSC supporters to back the Minnesota Republican every step of the way. Cornyn also used the e-mail as an opportunity to ask the committee’s supporters for a donation.

“Republicans, and the NRSC in particular, remain committed to a full and fair resolution of this election contest and stand firmly behind Senator Norm Coleman,— Cornyn wrote in the e-mail.

Meanwhile, Franken has declared victory, while Coleman’s legal team used a Tuesday conference call with reporters to establish grounds for appeal.

Ben Ginsberg, Coleman’s lead attorney, said the former Senator’s campaign plans to file its appeal in the next 10 days — the amount of time allotted by Minnesota law. Ginsberg argued that the three-judge panel’s decision to declare Franken the winner did not address equal protection or due process arguments.

“We have been reviewing the court’s order, and we feel that they have misunderstood a number of the issues as well as what’s at stake,— Ginsberg said. “The point is that there are thousands of voters who have not have their votes counted that should be counted.—

Franken has embraced the idea of being the Senator-elect, saying he looks forward to getting to work on Capitol Hill. However, he’ll have to wait at least until the Minnesota Supreme Court phase of Coleman’s challenge concludes, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) signaled late Monday that he will not move to seat the Democratic Senate hopeful at least until Coleman has exhausted his appeals in state court.

Reid until now has declined to try to seat Franken and test a promised GOP filibuster to prevent such a move. At 41 seats, Republicans hold the minimum number required to sustain a filibuster.

“Franni and I couldn’t be happier, because today, after a lengthy and careful trial scrutinizing our lengthy and careful recount, the three-judge panel has declared a winner in the 2008 Senate election here in Minnesota,— Franken said in a statement. “I am honored and humbled by this close victory, and I’m looking forward to getting to work as soon as possible.—

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) must sign an election certificate to make Franken’s election official in the Gopher State. He has indicated that he will not sign the certificate until Coleman has exhausted all of his legal options in the state, including this appeal to the Supreme Court.

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