Reid Holding Back on Seating Franken

Posted April 1, 2009 at 10:21am

On the heels of Tuesday’s Minnesota court ruling, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has no plans to challenge a vowed Republican filibuster and seat Democrat Al Franken before he is officially certified as the winner of the 2008 Senate race, a Senate Democratic leadership aide confirmed Wednesday morning.

Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), the incumbent in the November contest, is protesting the results of the race in state court. Franken led Coleman by 225 votes after Election Day, setting off a mandatory recount and leading to a series of legal challenges.

Tuesday’s ruling by a state panel was considered a setback for Coleman, as the Republican had asked that 1,350 previously uncounted absentee ballots be tallied. The three-judge panel ruled that only up to 400 of those ballots could be counted.

It is considered unlikely that counting the 400 absentee ballots could swing the race to Coleman. However, more decisions from the panel are forthcoming, and Coleman is expected to take his case to the state Supreme Court if the panel does not find in his favor.

For these reasons, and because Senate Republicans are unified in using their 41 votes to prevent Franken from being seated absent an official certification of his victory, Reid is declining to move to install him. A statement released by Reid spokesman Jim Manley on Tuesday following the court’s decision indicated as much.

“Sen. Reid is looking forward to the final resolution of this case by the Minnesota courts so that Al Franken can finally be seated as the new Senator from Minnesota,— Manley said.

Earlier, Reid has said Franken would be seated in April, but that appears unlikely at this point.

A Senate Republican leadership aide confirmed Wednesday that the GOP Conference’s position on this matter has not changed.