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Coleman Concedes; Franken to Be Seated

Updated: 5:57 p.m.

Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) conceded the protracted 2008 Senate race to Democrat Al Franken Tuesday afternoon at a press conference in Minnesota, acknowledging today’s state Supreme Court’s decision that ruled Franken the winner and saying he “will abide by its results.”

“I now congratulate Al Franken and his victory in this election,” Coleman said at the conference.

Coleman said he has ruled out any other legal appeals in the Senate race, which Franken won by 312 votes after a statewide recount.

Franken declared victory at his own press conference outside his Minneapolis home Tuesday, saying he and his wife, Franni, were “thrilled that we can finally celebrate this victory.” He said he received a “gracious” call earlier that day from Coleman, who conceded the race to him.

“He just said, ‘It’s going to be the best job you’re ever going to have,’” Franken recalled.

Franken, who is expected to be seated early next week, said much had been made of his victory giving Democrats a 60th seat in the Senate and therefore a filibuster-proof majority.

“I’m not going to Washington to be the 60th Senator. I’m going to Washington to be the second Senator from Minnesota,” Franken said. “And that’s how I’m going to do this job.”

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled unanimously, 5-0, in Franken’s favor on Tuesday, upholding an earlier court’s decision that ruled Franken the winner.

President Barack Obama this afternoon issued a brief written statement referring to Franken as the “Senator-elect.”

“I look forward to working with Senator-Elect Franken to build a new foundation for growth and prosperity by lowering health care costs and investing in the kind of clean energy jobs and industries that will help America lead in the 21st century,” Obama said.

Coleman conceded to Franken in front of his home in St. Paul — the city where he came to political fame as its mayor in the 1990s — with his daughter by his side.

 Coleman deflected questions about the future of his political career at the press conference, saying he would discuss the matter at another time. Coleman has been mentioned as a possible candidate for governor in 2010, when Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) is stepping down and there will be an open-seat race for the statewide post.

In his remarks, Coleman also thanked Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and her staff for their work as Minnesota’s single Senator during the eight months that the Senate race dragged on.

Klobuchar responded in kind, congratulating Franken and thanking Coleman for his decision not to appeal the case.

“I respect Norm Coleman for what I’m sure was a difficult decision. He could have appealed,” Klobuchar said in an interview with MSNBC.

She said she is hopeful that Franken will be sworn in when the Senate returns to work next week.

Meanwhile, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) released a statement welcoming Franken to the Senate and also praising Coleman.

“Throughout the last several months, Senate Republicans have made clear that the people of Minnesota, not politicians in Washington, should decide this election,” Cornyn said. “Now that the courts have spoken, I join Norm in respecting that decision and moving forward to address the important issues facing our country.”

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