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Minnesota Recount Has Cost Candidates $11.2 Million So Far

The ongoing Minnesota Senate recount battle between Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken has cost the two campaigns more than $11.2 million combined so far, according to campaign finance reports supplied by the campaigns. Franken’s campaign reported spending about $6 million so far in the recount, for a total of about $24.6 million spent on the entire two-year campaign for the Senate. Coleman’s campaign reported spending about $5.2 million so far on the recount. A panel of three state judges declared Franken the winner earlier this week, ruling the Democrat the victor by 312 votes. But Franken’s attempts to secure his lead have taken their toll on the campaign’s finances, which showed Wednesday that his account was carrying more than $1.32 million in debts as of March 31, though it had more than $948,700 cash on hand between its two dedicated recount accounts. A Franken spokeswoman also noted that the campaign in total has cost $24.6 million since the former “Saturday Night Live— entertainer started his bid almost two years ago. Coleman’s campaign reported having no debt, but only $469,600 cash on hand in its recount effort.Franken’s campaign spent $3.59 million in the first three months of 2009, while Coleman spent $3.87 million from Jan. 1 to March 31 on the recount campaign. And it appears the price tag on the Minnesota Senate contest will only continue to grow. Coleman’s campaign is in the process of appealing the decision of the three judges to the Minnesota Supreme Court — a process that could take anywhere from several weeks to a few months. After that, either candidate has the option to appeal his case to the U.S. Supreme Court.While Senate Democrats have the option of seating Franken at any time under Senate rules, Republican Senators have said they would filibuster any such attempt. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said earlier this week that he will not seat Franken until Coleman has made his appeal to the state Supreme Court. But according to a recent automated poll, Minnesota voters do not appear to have the patience for much more of the ongoing Senate battle. A survey by Public Policy Polling, a North Carolina-based Democratic firm, showed that 63 percent of voters thought Coleman should concede the recount, while 37 percent thought he should appeal to the Supreme Court. The survey polled 805 Minnesota voters, 59 percent of whom said Franken should be seated immediately.The poll, taken Monday and Tuesday, had a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

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