THE BLOG
04/03/2009 01:44 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

MN-Sen: What is Norm Coleman's End Game?

{Originally posted at my blog Senate Guru.}

People who live in the world of logic and reason might wonder what Republican Norm Coleman's end game is, as - logically and reasonably speaking - it is not clear.

The three-judge panel is making it abundantly clear that their ruling will not result in Norm Coleman being a U.S. Senator. Further, the flimsy "equal protection" arguments that Coleman's lawyers are making seem suited for a federal appeal rather than an appeal to the state Supreme Court, which would be the first appeal to come after Coleman loses at the hands of the three-judge panel. Clearly, Coleman's handlers are looking at dragging this out for as long as possible, an impression supported by NRSC Chair John Cornyn's comment that seating Minnesota's second Senator could take "years." Maybe Norm Coleman's goal is not winning back his U.S. Senate seat.

Elsewhere, those who follow Minnesota politics closely suggest that Coleman dragging out the appeal could damage his reputation and ruin any chances at a future political run, particularly a gubernatorial bid if current GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty passes on a run for another term so that he can focus on a Presidential bid. Maybe Norm Coleman's goal is not setting himself up for a guberntorial bid (or any other future political campaign).

A U.S. Senator's salary is $169,300 and the Minnesota Governor's salary is $120,303. At the same time, we know that, over the years, Coleman treated his home like an ATM, refinancing or otherwise altering the terms of his mortgage a dozen times in thirteen years, culminating in a $775,000 mortgage two years ago. Add to it Coleman's massive legal fees, including legal fees that can't legally (at this point) be paid for by campaign funds, and we see that Norm Coleman has a mountain of personal debt. Sure, Coleman did not pay for a lot of things himself over the years, but he still has this enormous pile of debt. And Coleman is not a millionaire.

My very simple theory is this. Norm Coleman he has personal debts (and will continue to grow that debt through additional legal bills) that may very well approach one million dollars. Coleman turns 60 years old this August. There is no way that Coleman can pay off his debts (including that 30-year mortgage for $775,000 that Coleman took out just two years ago) on a Senator's or Governor's salary. And I don't think Coleman plans on paying that mortgage every month until he is 88 years old. Simply put, Coleman needs a very high-paying salary. I'm not an accountant, but, if Coleman wants to enjoy his retirement years and not worry about that massive debt he has accrued, he'll need to start making salary of around half a million dollars a year - which means having conservative power brokers (who are pleased with his efforts to keep another Democrat out of the Senate) hook him up with a lucrative lobbying gig.

There you have Coleman's real end game. It's not to win back his Senate seat or serve the public in any way. Norm Coleman's end game is to intentionally force Minnesotans to be underrepresented in the U.S. Senate for as long as possible through endless appeals of the election result and subsequently secure a high paying lobbyist job for a special interest that could care less what the average Minnesota family needs. However cynical this may sound, it is, quite frankly, the most logical conclusion based on Coleman's actions. We'll see.