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Senators Offer Tributes to Former Sen. Coleman

Senators took to the floor one-by-one Thursday to bid farewell to former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), who was officially handed defeat last week by the Minnesota Supreme Court in the state’s epic 2008 recount battle.“Norm Coleman’s service in the Senate has been marked by the same high-level distinction that’s marked everything else he’s done in three decades of public service,— Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said of the one-term Senator and former St. Paul mayor.“Norm was a very unique individual in the United State Senate. He grew up in New York, was educated in Iowa and wound up living in Minnesota,— said Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), who praised Coleman’s work on the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee.Coleman, who lost his re-election bid to Sen. Al Franken (D) by just 312 votes, announced last week that he will not appeal his case to federal court. Despite the end of Coleman’s Senate career, McConnell predicted a bright future for his one-time colleague. Some have suggested a gubernatorial bid may be in Coleman’s future.“I have no doubt that this is not the last we’ll hear from Norm Coleman. He already has a legacy to be proud of. But it’s a legacy that’s still very much in the works,— McConnell said.Coleman was elected mayor of St. Paul as a Democrat in 1993 and as a Republican in 1997. He was elected to his first and only Senate term in 2002 following a campaign that was as noteworthy and emotional as the 2008 recount. In that 2002 race, Coleman beat former Sen. and Vice President Walter Mondale (D), who became his party’s nominee after incumbent Sen. Paul Wellstone (D) died in an airplane crash 11 days before the election. Coleman defeated Mondale 50 percent to 47 percent.Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) also offered praise for Coleman.“My thoughts during these past eight months have been directed toward the difficulty they’ve had in their lives as a result of that close election,— Reid said of Coleman and Franken, who was sworn into office Tuesday.Coleman “moved aside when the time was right and when the legal challenges had been exhausted,— Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) said, adding that his former colleague “did so with grace and dignity that is the hallmark of Norm Coleman.—