POLITICS

Coleman Officially Challenges His Election Loss

02/06/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Sen. Norm Coleman announced on Tuesday that he has instructed his legal team to challenge the result of the Minnesota Senate recount that left Democrat Al Franken 225 votes ahead.

"I really believe that the people of Minnesota want to get this right, no matter what side of the aisle you are on," the Senator declared before a gaggle of reporters.

The move by Coleman -- officially contesting the election to the Ramsey County Court -- ensures that there will be no second seated Senator from the state of Minnesota for the foreseeable future. Senate Democrats have declined to use procedural methods to seat Al Franken, who has officially won more votes in the election, until he has a signed certification from the governor.

Coleman, in a brief press conference, argued that the state canvassing board had disenfranchised some voters through a variety of decisions made during the course of the recount process.

"Until these issues are settled," he said, "any attempt to seat a Senator who is not properly certified violates Senate precedent, and usurps the will of the people of Minnesota."

UPDATE: In a brief press conference after Coleman's statement, the (former) Senator's lead attorney, Fritz Knaak, warns Minnesotans that the challenge could take some time.

"I would not be surprised if this went a month a half, two months out," he said. "Technically we could redo the entire recount. I can tell you right now, that is not in the plans."

Oy.

In a conference call with reporters following the announcement of Coleman's lawsuit, Al Franken's chief counsel, Marc Elias, called the move a regrettable diversion from filling Minnesota's now vacant Senate seat, one that would not change the final results.

Saying that Franken's margin was "close but comfortable," Elias dismissed the complaints contained in Coleman's suit as already settled terrain.

"Today we have all learned that Sen. Coleman has decided to fight that fight no matter how long the odds are or how much the cost will be," said Elias. There is nothing in what was filed today that was new ... And the results will be the same this time as it was before."

Elias parlayed several questions about the refusal of Senate Democrats to seat Franken while the election results are being certified and litigated. He declined to call the lawsuit illegitimate, saying simply that it was frivolous.

"The great thing about America is that the court systems remain open to all kinds of claims ... So I won't say it is illegitimate because that's what the courts are there for. But you shouldn't confuse that ... with the question of whether or not those cases have any merit."

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