The Minnesota Supreme Court this afternoon ruled unanimously that Al Franken is “entitled to receive the certificate of election as United States Senator from the State of Minnesota.” Barring an appeal by G.O.P. incumbent Norm Coleman to the U.S. Supreme Court — an appeal that court would be unlikely to be heard until the next session beginning in February if it accepted that case at all — the decision clears the way for Franken to be seated. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty said on CNN Sunday it would be a “dereliction of my duty” if he defies the Minnesota court. Coleman is scheduled to give a press conference at 4pm ET and Franken is expected to speak at 5:15pm ET. The decision looked likely to end nearly eight months of legal wrangling and recounts and could give Democrats a 60-seat, filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. That majority, though, remains difficult for Democrats to rely upon given the ailing health of Senators Ted Kennedy, who has been suffering from a brain tumor, and Bob Byrd, who was released today from hospital after suffering a staph infection for more than a month.
Norm Coleman just conceded. He said he has already called and congratulated Franken. “I have never believed that my service is irreplaceable,” Coleman told reporters in front of his home in St. Paul. “We have reached the point where further litigation damages the unity of our state, which is also fundamental. In these tough times, we all need to focus on the future. And the future today is we have a new United States Senator. I congratulate Al Franken and his victory in this election.” As to the future, Coleman said he’s made no decisions beyond going fishing this weekend. Full statement after the jump.
Franken declares victory. “I know that there’s been a lot of talk about the fact that when I’m sworn in I’ll be the 60 member of the Democratic caucus. But that’s not how I see it. The way I see it, I’m not going to Washington to be the 60th democratic senator, I’m going to Washington to be the second senator from the state of Minnesota and that’s how I’m going to do this job,” Franken told reporters in front of his Minneapolis home to cheers from supporters who’d gathered to congratulate him. His full statement is also after the jump.
A STATEMENT FROM SENATOR NORM COLEMAN
ST. PAUL – Senator Norm Coleman today made the following statement at his home in St. Paul:
“Ours is a government of laws, not men and women. The Supreme Court of Minnesota has spoken and I respect its decision and will abide by the result. It’s time for Minnesota to come together under the leaders it has chosen and move forward. I join all Minnesotans in congratulating our newest United States Senator – Al Franken.
“Just a few last words about my legal challenge. Sure, I wanted to win. Not just for myself but for my wonderful supporters and the important values I have always fought for. I also thought it was important to stand up for enfranchising thousands of Minnesotans whose votes weren’t counted like the others were. After all, issues and politicians come and go, but voting is fundamental.
“It is the essence of democracy so I knew we needed to do everything we could to get it right.
“I am forever grateful and humbled by the people of Minnesota who have given me the honor to represent them – and even more grateful for their wisdom, courage, patience and understanding over these past several months.
“The path that I take in the future is not nearly as important today as the path that we must now — all travel on together — to strengthen our state and our nation.
“I have never believed that my service is irreplaceable. We have reached the point where further litigation damages the unity of our state, which is also fundamental. In these tough times, we all need to focus on the future. And the future today is we have a new United States Senator.
“I congratulate Al Franken and his victory in this election. He now enjoys the advantage that our Congressional Delegation has over the other 525 people on Capitol Hill: he represents Minnesota.
“I know the great ideas, the amazing work ethic and the historic ability to come together to get things done in this state will help him greatly, as it has me.
“Speaking of which, I think we all should take a moment to thank Amy Klobuchar and her staff. They have done a great job of carrying the burden of two Senators these last six months. She is an extraordinary public servant.
“I don’t reach this point with any big regrets. I ran the campaign I wanted. I conducted the legal challenge I wanted. And I have always believed you do the best you can and leave the results up to a higher authority. I’m at peace with that. As to my future plans, that’s a subject for another day.
“We live in a great country and a great state. We can all have confidence that by some path we don’t yet know – one which we can all come together to lay out – we will arrive at the better future we all seek.
“Thank you and may God bless Minnesota and America.”
MINNEAPOLIS [6/30/09] – Senator-elect Al Franken:
“We have a lot of work to do in Washington, but that’s why I signed up for the job in the first place. When we started this campaign way back in February 2007, I said that Americans have never backed away from tough challenges, and Minnesotans have always led the way.
“Working with our fantastic senior Senator, Amy Klobuchar, I’m going to fight hard to put people to work, improve education, make Minnesota the epicenter of a new renewable energy economy, and make quality health care accessible and affordable for all Minnesotans.
“No matter whether you voted for me, or for Senator Coleman, or for Senator Barkley, or whether you voted at all, I want the people of Minnesota to know that I’m ready to work for all of you, and that I’m committed to being a voice for all Minnesotans in the U.S. Senate.”