236 votes separate GOP Sen. Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken. Both candidates are also preparing for a recount. Coleman's campaign manager sent a letter to County Elections officials to keep round the clock security over the ballots. Franken started raising money for the recount.
Meanwhile, Coleman's campaign is looking for recount watchers.
Franken told MPR's Midday that he won't waive the recount.
The Fargo Forum says counties are bracing for the recount.
Meanwhile, former U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger will not head Coleman's recount team.
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie will be on Midday at 11 this morning to talk about the recount.
AP says an official recount would occur but other avenues (including legal challenges) could overtake it. The Senate could also determine the winner.
MinnPost says the DFL blew a big opportunity in several key races.
The Pi Press ponders Gov. Pawlenty's presidential probability and the Republican party's future.
As expected, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and House Majority Leader Tony Sertich have been reelected to their positions by the DFL Caucus.
Congressman-elect Erik Paulsen wants to join the House Ways and Means Committee.
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann praises Obama but also said she hopes disagreement with Obama won't be considered racism.
DFL Rep. Collin Peterson wants a higher bio-blend.
DFL Rep. Tim Walz calls for greater cooperation in Congress.
President-elect Obama will hold a news conference today at 1:30 Central. MInnesota Public Radio will air his comments live on the radio.
DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar says it's unlikely that he'll accept a post in the Obama Administration.
There is also speculation that DFL Rep. Collin Peterson could be tabbed for Ag Chief.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak says he's not looking to join the Obama cabinet.
U.S. employers cut 240,000 jobs last month.
Retailers also report decreased buying.
Workers at Cliffs Resources is preparing for layoffs including jobs cuts on the Iron Range.
A Northwest Airlines customer center is closing in Minot.
The Digest will be taking next week off to work on our transition team. There really isn't a transition occurring but I'm exhausted and need to take a break. The blog will continue to post updates on the Senate recount, etc. I just won't be getting up at 6 AM to do it. The Digest will resume the week of November 17th - Which will now be known as Recount Week. Have a nice weekend.
Posted at 9:15 AM on November 7, 2008
by Tom Scheck
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie will be on MPR's Midday today to talk about the recount in Minnesota's U.S. Senate race.
Posted at 10:27 AM on November 7, 2008
by Tom Scheck
Rasmussen Reports polled Republicans to see which candidates they would like to see run for President in 2012. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin tops the list followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Gov. Pawlenty received 1% support in the poll.
The Weekly Standard writes about the poll here.
Meanwhile: The Fix continues to give Pawlenty plenty of smooches:
2. Tim Pawlenty: After being edged out in the veepstakes, T-Paw's profile faded somewhat over the final few months of the presidential campaign. But, the reasons he was an attractive potential vice presidential pick -- two-term governor of a swing state, up-from-the-bootstraps personal story, an economic populist by nature -- also are those that make him an appealing blueprint for Republicans around the country to copy. Watch to see if Pawlenty emerges as a leading economic voice for the party over the coming months; if he does, expect him to be a candidate when 2012 rolls around.
For now, Minnesota's U.S. Senate race is looking to set a record as the closest election in the history of that legislative body. A 355-vote margin in New Hampshire's election in 1974 is the current record.
That one wound down to a truly memorable finish. After two recounts in New Hampshire and more than six months of deadlock at the U.S. Capitol, the Senate declared New Hampshire's senate seat vacant on August 8, 1975. That was 276 days after the polls closed. Democratic challenger John Durkin and Republican incumbent Louis Wyman squared off again in a September re-vote.
But in the Watergate era, it proved extraordinarily difficult for the Republican incumbent. Wyman's Democratic challenger, John Durkin, took the seat by 27,000 votes.
That's not how it is likely to play out in Minnesota, though. How about this for a doomsday scenario?
The state has a vacancy law (204.D28) that deals with precisely such matters, and it has come into play several times. The first was in 1976, when U.S. Senator Walter Mondale was elected Jimmy Carter's vice president. Gov. Wendell Anderson resigned and had his successor, Rudy Perpich, appoint him to the vacant seat. The political maneuvering effectively ended Anderson's political career. The second case was in 2002, when Senator Paul Wellstone was killed in a plane crash and Gov. Jesse Ventura appointed Dean Barkley to the Senate.
Here's the relevant part, though: If a recount of this year's election stretches into January, either the state courts or the U.S. Senate (which is the ultimate arbiter of the election of its members) could declare Minnesota to have a vacant senate seat. That would trigger the state's vacancy law, which allows the governor to appoint a senator.
The law makes a crucial point here: "An appointee shall hold office until a successor is elected and qualified at a special election or until a successor is elected." That means that come January 3rd, 2009, if the matter still hasn't been settled and the election's victor declared, Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty will be theoretically able to appoint a U.S. Senator (likely a Republican) who will serve at least until Nov. 3, 2009, when another election is held and a winner "qualified." Which is to say he or she gets a result certified by the state canvassing board and the seven day contest period expires.
According to Ramsey County elections manager Joe Mansky, who long served in the Secretary of State's office, that would make for a term of office ending Nov. 25, 2009. That would make for a 325 day senate term -- presuming Pawlenty doesn't appoint incumbent Norm Coleman.
And here's where the real trouble comes. If, say, the Republicans successfully argue to a state judge on January 3 (or shortly after) that the undecided election amounts to a vacancy in the office, they could effectively nullify this week's election. Minnesota's vacancy law doesn't have a look-back provision. Even if the election were subsequently settled, the law doesn't apply a past election to a vacancy that has already been filled. Filling the vacancy would automatically trigger a do-over in the next November.
Presumably, that would only occur if it looked like Coleman were trailing or in a bad legal position.
And state law wouldn't stop Al Franken from going to Washington, D.C., telling the secretary of the Senate that he is the real victor and asking the Senate to seat him, without an election certificate. That would presumably spark a debate in the U.S. Senate over whether the seat is vacant and touch off Lord only knows what kind of a political struggle between Washington D.C. and St. Paul.
In short: even a recount might theoretically leave this year's Senate race unfinished.
Posted at 11:46 AM on November 7, 2008
by Tom Scheck
will be live on MPR News at 1:20 this afternoon.
Posted at 1:17 PM on November 7, 2008
by Tim Nelson
So one recount theory has it that a hand examination of the ballots is going to be good for Democrat Al Franken.
Since new, young and immigrant voters are thought to be liberally inclined, the thinking goes, Democratic voters might be less familiar with the process and more inclined toward error -- presumably the kind of error that can still be sorted out under Minnesota's voter intent law. That, in turn, would give Republican U.S. Senator Norm Coleman's challenger additional -- and possibly winning -- votes in a recount.
Well, think again.
Democrats aren't the only partisans that might have a stray thought or two about Minnesota's voting methods.
Case in point: the Minneapolis Republicans. A sample ballot mailed out under their name seems to offer the curious suggestion that Republicans would want to vote for a Republican school board candidate by circling her name. Here's a copy of the sample ballot that arrived in a Minneapolis mailbox the other day:
Granted, Republicans are as capable as anyone else of reading the directions on the actual ballot on Election Day or hearing from someone else about how to mark their ballots. I sent an email over to minneapolisrepublicans.org to see what they meant with the name-circling, but haven't heard back from them yet.
But it looks like stray voting might just be a multi-partisan affair.
Sen. Norm Coleman's campaign is filing a data practices request looking for all information related to results, ballot security and revisions made to the Secretary of State's reporting of results since election night.
A release from the campaign says it is making the request of Mark Ritchie's office and county auditors because "improbable and statistically dubious chunks of votes appear and disappear, overwhelmingly benefiting Al Franken."
Here's the quote from Coleman campaign manager Cullen Sheehan:
"Minnesota has a history of fair and clean elections, and we are committed to ensuring that this election is no different. That is why it is so troubling to us that instead of the normal slight changes in vote totals one would expect during this process, we are now seeing huge chunks of votes appearing and disappearing - statistically dubious and improbable shifts that are overwhelmingly accruing to the benefit of Al Franken. And, as many of these unexplained and improbably vote swings are taking place on the Iron Range, we're asking that local and state election officials provide us with the necessary data to reassure the public that the canvassing process has not been tainted."
The campaign specifically cites 100 ballots reported from Mountain Iron that all went for Franken.
Could this be the first step to contesting the election in court and effectively removing Ritchie from the recount process?
Posted at 4:44 PM on November 7, 2008
by Tom Scheck
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie released his preliminary recount plan. Here's the release:
SECRETARY OF STATE MARK RITCHIE PRESENTS PRELIMINARY PLAN FOR STATEWIDE RECOUNT OF THE U.S. SENATE RACE
SAINT PAUL, Minn.-Nov. 7, 2008-Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie announced today preliminary details about how the statewide recount will be conducted.
"Today my staff and I met with representatives of the U.S. Senate campaigns to make plans for conducting this historic statewide recount," Ritchie said. "This requires the cooperation of all parties to ensure an orderly recount process."
The recount will be conducted in the local jurisdictions in which the ballots were cast. More than 70 counties and 30 cities have already agreed to assist by serving as Deputy Recount Officials. Details about the date, times and locations for the recount will be compiled and made available to the candidates and the public by the end of the day Wednesday, Nov. 12. The state canvassing board will approve the recount plan at their meeting on Nov 18. Deputy Recount Officials must complete the recount and submit their results to the Secretary of State by Dec. 5. The state canvassing board for the recount will meet on Dec. 16, and will aim to conclude their work by Dec. 19.
Each Deputy Recount Official will designate individuals to examine each ballot by hand to determine the voter's intent, in accordance with Minnesota Statutes, section 204C.22. Both candidates will have the opportunity to have an observer for each precinct who will have the right to challenge ballots if they believe that the voter's intent is not clear. The state canvassing board will review the challenged ballots to see if the voter's intent can be determined.
This week, county election officials have been busy proofing the unofficial results previously submitted to this office's Web site. Corrections have resulted in a shifting margin which now stands at 239 votes with the advantage to incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Norm Coleman. County canvassing boards, who certify the results in their respective counties, are scheduled to conclude by the end of day, Monday, Nov. 10.
As provided by Minnesota statutes, the state canvassing board will convene Nov. 18. The board is comprised of two Minnesota Supreme Court Justices, two district court judges and chaired by the Secretary of State. The state canvassing board will certify the results in the general election. An automatic statewide recount is triggered by Minnesota law when the margin between state, judicial, and federal candidates is less than one-half of one percent.
Links to documents distributed during news conference are provided as follows:
Recount Assistance Plan http://www.sos.state.mn.us/docs/statewide_recount_assistance_plan..pdf (PDF)
2008 Recount Manual http://www.sos.state.mn.us/docs/recount_guide_2008.pdf (PDF)
Aitkin County: Adjustments to U.S. Senate Race Results for General Election Held November 4, 2008 http://www.sos.state.mn.us/docs/aitkin_county__2008_election_results.pdf (PDF)
Recount Informational Meeting: http://www.sos.state.mn.us/docs/recount_informational_meeting.pdf (PDF)