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Reid Shifts Blame in Recount Fight

Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) confirmed as much, saying he expects Franken to prevail in state court. Schumer, who ran the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee last cycle, predicted that once that happens, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) would be forced to sign an election certificate — something he has refused to do even though Democrats charge he could if he wanted to.

“We’re willing to wait through the Minnesota Supreme Court,” Schumer said. “As I understand the law ... once the Minnesota [court case] has run its course, [the governor and the secretary of state] have to sign the certificate, and then he gets seated.”

Earlier this year, as it became clear that Minnesota would not immediately certify Franken as the winner, Reid indicated that his patience with the delay in Franken’s installment would run out. Never one to back away from a fight, the Majority Leader acknowledged that it made no sense to try to seat Franken in the face of a GOP filibuster, while also suggesting that the warning wouldn’t cow him indefinitely.

Although Senate Republicans have talked about filibustering legislation this Congress, their vow to block Franken’s seating is the most assertive and concerted of the year. It shows a rare power play for a 41-seat minority.

Senate Republican aides have subtly mocked Reid on the matter, claiming that his failure to prevent Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.), tapped by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), from being seated is the reason he has not moved to install Franken.

But Reid’s office said the Majority Leader still reserves the right to press ahead with Franken’s seating, adding that the Nevadan would pick the fight at a time and under conditions of his choosing. One former Democratic leadership aide said Reid’s hesitancy was more a strategy than a reaction to the GOP filibuster.

“He’s pretty good about picking his fights. He’s not willing to back down, but having been on the other side, he has a pretty good sense of what can send a caucus through the roof,” this one-time aide said. “If you do anything that short-circuits the legal process, it could ignite a nuclear war with the Republicans.”

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