Schumer: Specter Switch Won’t Prompt Franken Installment

Posted April 30, 2009 at 12:36pm

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Thursday that Sen. Arlen Specter’s (Pa.) shift to the Democratic Party hasn’t changed his Conference’s strategy on seating Minnesota Democrat Al Franken.

Schumer, the Democratic Conference vice chairman and former Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chairman, said Democrats would wait for a conclusion to ex-Sen. Norm Coleman’s (R) state Supreme Court challenge of the November election results. A three-judge panel reviewing a recount of the Coleman/Franken race recently deemed Franken the winner by a few hundred votes, a decision Coleman is appealing to the state’s high court.

“The law is clearly on our side,— Schumer said.

Schumer and Democratic leaders had previously cited a Republican filibuster threat as the main reason they decided against installing Franken.

As a Republican, Specter signed a GOP Conference letter vowing to filibuster Franken’s installment so long as Coleman was contesting the results of the Nov. 4 election.

However, since Specter left the GOP earlier this week to become a Democrat, it’s unclear whether such a filibuster would hold.

Schumer said he expects the Minnesota Supreme Court to rule for Franken, and he predicted the court might even order Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) to certify Franken’s victory. Should Pawlenty refuse, Schumer indicated Democrats might try to install him.

“If he refuses to sign, we’ll have to cross that bridge when we come to it,— Schumer said.