Schumer: Minnesota Recount Won’t Be Florida 2000 Redux

Posted November 13, 2008 at 3:16pm

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) vowed Thursday afternoon that Minnesota 2008 will not be Florida 2000 during a news conference called to discuss the three outstanding Senate races from the Nov. 4 elections.

Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) leads challenger Al Franken (D) by 206 votes pending a mandatory statewide recount because the final vote margin was smaller than .5 percent. Both Democrats and Republicans have been scrambling since last week’s contest to influence public opinion and put in place a team of volunteer lawyers and monitors to work the recount, which is scheduled to begin Tuesday and not end until late December.

“The Coleman campaign is juicing up the right wing to put pressure on the process,” Schumer told reporters gathered at DSCC headquarters. “The right wing has worked itself into a lather in a clear attempt to intimidate election officials from doing their job. They clearly want a repeat of the 2000 recount in Florida.”

The looming recount might not cost Coleman the election as Minnesota’s voting system is thought to be much better than Florida’s was in 2000 — and in fact is thought of as a model for other states.

But the recount has come with some costs, including forcing Coleman on Thursday to drop out of the race to become the next National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman. Coleman called Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) Thursday afternoon to tell him he was dropping his bid to lead the NRSC in the 2010 election cycle.

Both the Coleman and Franken camps have been jockeying for the upper hand in public perception since Nov. 4, when the incumbent Republican saw an initial lead that was more than 1,000 votes shrink to 206 by the time the standard post-election canvass of votes had completed.

The Coleman campaign has expressed concern that most of the tabulation errors on election night — that is the vote counts forwarded to the secretary of state’s office from each precinct — overwhelmingly favored Franken. The Franken campaign has argued that something nefarious might be afoot in terms of the large number of undervotes on ballots that showed a vote for now-President-elect Barack Obama but no vote in the Senate race.

Schumer pledged to do whatever is necessary to aid the Franken campaign in the recount. Schumer said that Democratic effort in the hand recount of every ballot is being spearhead by the Franken campaign with the DSCC providing legal advice and some logistical support.

Meanwhile, Schumer said he was cautiously optimistic that Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D) would prevail over Sen. Ted Stevens (R) in Alaska. Stevens was ahead by a few thousands votes until Wednesday, when the state began counting the approximately 80,000 votes that were outstanding.

Begich at last count had turned the tables, and surged to an 814-vote lead. About 40,000 votes remain to be counted.