Monday, March 30, 2009

Senator John Cornyn Threatens "World War III" If Al Franken Is Seated As Minnesota Senator

Republicans have forgotten their objections to "frivolous lawsuits" when it comes to the Minnesota election dispute–the longest in state history–between apparent Democratic senator-elect Al Franken (left) and former Republican senator Norm Coleman.

Franken currently leads Coleman by 225 votes in the recount; however, he cannot be certified until the state court rules on election challenges. Even the Minnesota Supreme Court, however, may not have the final say if one of the parties–i.e., Coleman–appeals to a federal court. That may be the next step, as reported in Politico:

Texas Sen. John Cornyn is threatening “World War III” if Democrats try to seat Al Franken in the Senate before Norm Coleman can pursue his case through the federal courts.

Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, acknowledges that a federal challenge to November’s elections could take “years” to resolve. But he’s adamant that Coleman deserves that chance — even if it means Minnesota is short a senator for the duration.

A three-judge panel is expected to rule any day now on legal challenges to the November election.

...Cornyn believes that Minnesota can’t certify Franken the winner if Coleman seeks review from the U.S. Supreme Court or files a new federal case. 

Behind all this is preventing one more vote in the Senate for President Obama's agenda:

Minnesota has been down a senator since the beginning of the year, and Democrats — who expect Franken to prevail eventually — view themselves as down a vote they’re entitled to have. Without Franken in the Senate, the Democrats hold a 58-41 vote advantage over the GOP; getting to 59-41 sooner rather than later would make it easier to move President Barack Obama’s agenda through Congress.

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee director Eric Schulz spoke to Talking Points Memo about the Republican tactics in Minnesota:

"Republicans have made it clear they will hold this Senate seat hostage in order to pursue their political agenda - at the hefty expense of Minnesota having full representation in Congress. We're all awaiting the three-judge panel to return its verdict, and once they do, we will have yet another confirmation that Al Franken won the election - and hopefully he can get to Washington to do the job he was elected to do."

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, told C-Span that having only one Governor puts the state "at a disadvantage." Democrat Amy Klobuchar, the state's lone Senator, has stated that her staff's casework has "doubled."

None of this matters to John Cornyn, who said, "I encourage [Coleman] to see it through the end. He feels like he owes it to the voters of Minnesota and his colleagues here. He realizes how important retaining that seat is to us.” Actually, Cornyn and Coleman are shortchanging the voters of Minnesota for the interests of their party colleagues.

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