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Franken Names State Director

On the heels of winning his Senate recount trial last week, Minnesota Democrat Al Franken (D) made his first staffing announcement on Monday, naming a long-time staffer to Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) as his state director.

A three-judge panel ruled last week that Franken defeated incumbent Norm Coleman (R) in the 2008 recount — a verdict that the former GOP Senator plans to appeal to the state Supreme Court this week. Although Franken has yet to be certified the winner of the race, his decision to bring on Alana Petersen as state director sends a signal that the Democrat is moving forward.

“He certainly doesn’t want to be presumptuous, but he thinks it would be irresponsible not to get a jump on this,— Franken spokeswoman Jess McIntosh said.

But Franken could be a long time away from taking a seat in the Senate. Coleman’s appeal is expected to take from several weeks to a couple months, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has indicated that he does not plan to install Franken while that appeal is still pending. Republicans have threatened to filibuster any Democratic attempt to seat Franken as Coleman pursues his legal challenges, and reiterated that threat last week.

Furthermore, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) must sign off on Franken’s election in order for him to be certified as the official winner of the Senate race. Pawlenty has publicly stated that he will not sign an election certificate until Coleman has exhausted his legal options in Minnesota, but it’s unclear if the governor would hold off if Coleman appeals to the federal Supreme Court — a process that could push one of the longest and most expensive Senate races in history into the summer.

Franken has no plans to travel to Washington, D.C., this week for his party’s weekly policy luncheon on Capitol Hill, McIntosh said.

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