Posted at 6:39 AM on December 19, 2008
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
It will now be called the 2009 Senate race since it's unlikely we'll know a winner until the New Year. The Minnesota Supreme Court extended the recount when it ruled that wrongly rejected absentee ballots have to be counted. The court, however, put some pretty stiff stipulations on how they're identified and counted. MPR, MinnPost, the Star Tribune, AP and the Pi Press have stories.
As Dan Rather would say, "This race is tighter than a rusted lug nut on a 1958 Chevy.."
AP and MPR have the margin between GOP Sen. Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken at two votes. The Star Tribune has it at 5 votes. Regardless, everyone (even the Coleman folks) expect Franken to take the lead today. MPR, the Star Tribune, AP and the Pi Press have stories.
The Pi Press says the Franken campaign is also trying to get some absentee ballots that were rejected for not being having proper voter registration back into the mix. They say some people were, in fact, registered.
Forum Communications says the ballot markings bewilder the board.
CNN reports that Gov. Pawlenty has researched his role in filling a vacancy but doesn't think he'll have to.
The Pi Press examines whether Coleman can use campaign funds for a legal defense.
Gov. Pawlenty will announce his budget cuts today at 2 pm. Aid to cities and counties is on the table.
The Star Tribune says a cut in state aid will pinch local governments.
House DFLers want budget balancing ideas from the public.
The Madoff scandal may hit the state budget.
Minnesota lost more than 10,000 jobs last month.
A Washington County judge rejects health claims related to 3M chemicals.
Auditors find sloppy money handling by state officials.
The U of M updates the Iron Range on a mesothelioma study.
The state tweaks school report cards.
President Bush is considering an "orderly" bankruptcy to deal with the automakers.
DFL Rep. Keith Ellison said his Hajj was transformative.
President-elect Obama discusses an $850 billion stimulus package with Democrats in Congress.
Obama picks Daniel Tarullo for the Fed Board.
Organized labor is thrilled with Obama's pick to head the Labor department.
DFL Rep. Collin Peterson praises Obama's pick of Tom Vilsack as Ag Secretary.
Peterson says Obama will face an uphill battle if he tries to merge the SEC and CFTC.
DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar praises Obama's pick of Ray LaHood as Transportation Secretary.
Good-bye Deep Throat.
Posted at 9:42 AM on December 19, 2008
by Tom Scheck
As expected, Al Franken took his first lead in Minnesota's U.S. Senate race but there are still hundreds, if not thousands of withdrawn challenges that need to be allocated.
Meanwhile, the state canvassing board rejected a plea by Norm Coleman's attorney to look into an issue where Coleman's campaign suggested double counting could have occurred. The board said it wasn't the role of the canvassing board to look into the matter.
MPR's News Cut is live blogging the event.
Posted at 11:10 AM on December 19, 2008
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Recount
The campaign for Republican Norm Coleman is headed to court over the issue of duplicate ballots in the recount (UPDATE: Here's the petition). The State Canvassing Board rejected Coleman's plea to have certain ballots thrown out at this morning's hearing. Several members of the board said the best remedy is the courts, which Coleman's campaign is now following. Here's the release:
ST. PAUL - In a petition filed with the Minnesota Supreme Court today, the Coleman for Senate campaign has requested the Court to prevent the Minnesota State Canvassing Board from including double-counted votes in its recount totals. The petition seeks to have precincts which now have more votes than voters reconcile their ballots so that the Canvassing Board's numbers are accurate. The campaign also asks that the Court imposes the vote totals in these precincts as recorded on Election Night if the originals and duplicates cannot be reconciled. The campaign further asks that this reconciliation process be part of the process the Court ordered yesterday for improperly rejected absentee ballots. That process must be completed by December 31.
Minnesota law requires local election officials to make a duplicate ballot if an original is damaged during the election night counting process. The officials are supposed to mark all such ballots as "duplicate" ballots and to segregate the original ballots which were damaged and therefore not counted on election night. The problem arose during the hand recount when duplicate ballots could not be found to match the originals because election officials had not marked them as duplicates on election night. The precincts challenged as part of this action are ones where BOTH the originals and duplicates were tabulated in the recount, as evidenced by there now being more votes than voters in those precincts. The effect is that some voters have had their vote counted twice.
The Coleman campaign last night proposed that the campaigns agree on a method for resolving these obvious errors. The Franken campaign rejected the proposal. According to Fritz Knaak, lead attorney for Coleman for Senate, it was hoped that both campaigns could have reached an agreement on this issue and prevented the need for court action. The Canvassing Board members have acknowledged an error with the count, but they said today they lacked the statutory authority to reconcile the obvious errors. That led to the Coleman campaign filing this action with the Minnesota Supreme Court.
"We are disappointed the Franken Campaign would not join us in finding a resolution to this serious problem. Unfortunately, without that resolution, the State Canvassing Board has made it clear they will have to count some Minnesotan's votes twice. This means that millions of other Minnesota voters are being disenfranchised by the influence of hundreds of duplicate ballots that simply should not be counted. We respect the decision of the Board Members who have said that without an agreement by the campaigns they are powerless to remedy this matter. In order to ensure the integrity of the final results of the recount, the Canvassing Board must be provided clearer direction by the Supreme Court that such double-counting not only violates the Constitution, but also the sole purpose of the Canvassing Board which is to certify a recount only of the ballots counted on election night and not certify numbers which result in more ballots being counted than persons that voted on election day."
Posted at 12:12 PM on December 19, 2008
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Recount
Here's the Franken campaign reaction to Coleman's latest petition to the Minnesota Supremes:
SAINT PAUL [12/19/08] - Communications director Andy Barr:
"This is just the latest desperate act by a campaign panicked because it has suddenly realized that it is going to lose the election. The two campaigns and the Secretary of State agreed on a deal at the insistence of the Coleman campaign. The Coleman campaign then used that deal to prevent us from making challenges in counties across the state. And now that they realize they are going to lose, they are once again running to court to try to change the rules and disenfranchise hundreds of voters based on a theory they invented and cannot support with any real evidence."
FLASHBACK: Email from Coleman attorney Tony Trimble (11/19):
"We believe that duplicate ballots should be counted if no corresponding original can be found, as this was a ballot cast on election night. A challenge to a duplicate ballot for which no original can be found is a frivolous challenge, because it does not relate to voter intent. Any challenge to a duplicate ballot should be made within an election contest and is not within the limited jurisdiction of an administrative recount. We will request the Minnesota State Canvassing Board to reject any challenges to duplicate ballots as groundless and frivolous (if the same are brought to the Canvassing Board)."
Posted at 2:20 PM on December 19, 2008
by Tom Scheck
Governor Pawlenty plans to cut aid to local government, higher education, human services and other programs to make up the state's short term deficit. Pawlenty used his emergency powers to drain the state's reserve funds of $155 million and cut $271 million in spending to eliminate the short-term budget deficit of $426 million. The plan includes $110 million in cuts for cities and counties but spares smaller counties and cities with populations of one thousand people or less. Pawlenty said he tried to spare any one group of major pain.
"The deficit for the current biennium has to be resolved. Unlike the federal government, the state of Minnesota cannot deficit spend. We cannot print monopoly money in the basement. The books have to balance. That's a constitutional requirement. When any deficit opens up in Minnesota's finances, it needs to be addressed promptly and directly and aggressively and that's what these unallotments do."
Pawlenty's plan also cuts $73 million in Human Services spending, $40 million allocated to the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. This will be the first of many tough budget decisions for Pawlenty and the Legislature. Finance officials expect the short term deficit to grow. The state also faces a $4.8 billion dollar deficit in the two year budget that starts on July first.
DFL Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller issued a statement saying:
"We thought that across-the-board cuts would be a fair solution. The governor's cuts fall harder on cities and counties across the state and could hurt police and fire protection. We look forward to working with the governor to find the best possible solution to fixing this historic deficit."
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman issued a news release after the cuts. Here's part of it:
Today's cuts cannot be a sign of what's to come for cities as the budget process moves forward. Saint Paul has absorbed more than $121 million in cuts since 2003, and we've responded by making tough choices, restructuring departments, modernizing service delivery, and changing the way our City does business. We have been able to do all of this while making new investments in critical public safety and foreclosure prevention initiatives. Any further cuts in local aid will erase all of this progress and diminish the quality of services in a time when our residents need them the most."
The City of Saint Paul has taken aggressive action to address continuing revenue cuts. In recent years the Mayor and City Council have worked to reduce costs by merging departments, conducting cost saving efficiency audits, and restructuring services to provide residents better service at a better price.
In response to the State's announcement, the Mayor has asked all departments in the City to begin plans for a 20 percent budget reduction, and has placed new spending in the 2009 budget into contingency until State decisions are made on Local Government Aid.
Posted at 3:11 PM on December 19, 2008
by Tom Scheck
Gov. Pawlenty was asked about the report that his office has begun "looking into ... what might trigger the need for a gubernatorial appointment to the U.S. Senate."
During a news conference, Pawlenty said this about the possibility of him appointing someone to fill the Senate seat:
"I hope that's not necessary. I still think it is unlikely that there would be a long term vacancy or an intermediate term vacancy in that seat such that the appointment wouldn't even be necessary. I continue to believe that and that's the assumption that we're operating under that it's unlikely and wouldn't even be needed.."
When asked specifically what his office has done, Pawlenty said this:
"All that we have done is begin to look at the law so that if it became necessary, and it would only be a temporary appointment - I don't want anybody to think that it would be more than the limited time until we got the recount done. We're just looking at the laws to see how you do it so we don't get caught flat footed if it becomes necessary."