Minnesota: Coleman Camp May Wrap Up Case Soon

Posted February 25, 2009 at 6:26pm

After five weeks in the courtroom in an attempt to upend his 225-vote deficit, the legal team of former Sen. Norm Coleman (R) is tentatively expected to rest its case early next week, according to sources familiar with the trial.

Under Minnesota law, Coleman is contesting the recount results from his 2008 race against Democrat Al Franken before a three-judge election panel. Coleman officially trails Franken by 225 votes — a number that is likely to change after both sides rest their cases.

Over the course of Coleman’s case, the judges ruled that additional ballots would be counted, which resulted in a net gain for Franken of a couple of dozen votes.

But National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) expressed optimism earlier this week in a memo to Coleman supporters.

“If the Minnesota Court fulfills its statutory obligation to certify the candidate with the highest number of legally cast ballots, we are confident that Norm Coleman will be declared the winner,” Cornyn wrote.

Franken attorney Marc Elias said the campaign expects its part of the case to take a few weeks to present. Coleman’s campaign, however, has not ruled out an appeal if Franken is declared the winner. In the meantime, the second Senate seat from Minnesota will remain vacant.

In a phone interview, Elias said Franken’s camp will present evidence that some additional ballots should be counted that previously have not been.

“Unlike the other side, this won’t be a broad-sided attack on the Minnesota election system,” Elias said. “By and large, the system worked … but we’ve also said consistently that there were a small number of those ballots that were improperly rejected.”