Minnesota, Not D.C., Should Choose Senator

Posted January 9, 2009 at 5:49pm

Last week we saw the official swearing-in of Members of the 111th Congress, and in just over a week, the entire nation will watch history be made as Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. Obama, and just about every Member who will represent the citizens of our 50 states, campaigned and won on a pledge to put aside the partisanship that has waylaid important work in the past and to work together for the good of this country. We have every hope and expectation that they will live up to that promise.

But recent comments by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) regarding the Minnesota Senate seat still at play threaten that promise from being realized and threaten the very trust and confidence of the American people. Reid recently stated, “Norm Coleman will never ever serve [again] in the Senate. He lost the election. He can stall things, but he’ll never serve in the Senate.”

This astounding, power- grabbing statement by an individual who will set the course of action for the Senate is completely antithetical to the way our government operates. We are incredibly privileged to live in a democracy, where we have the constitutional right to choose our own elected officials and lawmakers rather than have them chosen for us.

No one, not even Reid, gets to deem who will and who won’t serve in the Senate or at any other level of elected government. Clearly the Democrats and their esteemed leader want as many seats in their favor as possible to allow them to promote and act on their political agenda, but with this statement, the Majority Leader has stepped over a very dangerous line.

While understandably there is an interest in having all of the 2008 elections over and done with, that desire cannot come at the expense of fairness. The process playing out in Minnesota is the process set forth in Minnesota’s election law. It may seem to be dragging on longer than some want, but that is the way that Minnesota’s law has designed the process. Political partisanship and gamesmanship by the Majority Leader or any others cannot intercede with protecting the will of the American voter. That is not the Minnesota way, it’s not the American way and it should not be tolerated.

The Majority Leader and others who are suggesting a usurping of the fundamental, constitutional rights of Minnesotans need to take a step back and respect the will of Minnesotans and the rights of every citizen in this country. If elected officials are granted the power to handpick the members of our governing bodies over those rightfully elected by the people, we run the very serious risk of losing the fundamental elements of our democracy as set forth by the Founding Fathers and that are still basic to our governing system today.

As newspapers across Minnesota have written on their editorial pages of recent, Coleman has every right to file an election contest, the Minnesota Supreme Court and the Minnesota state canvassing board have directed certain issues to be brought up in an election contest, and things are proceeding appropriately.

Reid should respect the voters of Minnesota enough to keep his partisanship out of the statutory business of their state, and he should be careful that his political aspirations don’t threaten the critical legislative work that needs to be done by Members of both sides of the aisle.

Sen. John Cornyn (Texas) is chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.