Senator Al Franken: The Party of 'No' vs. The Party of '60'

The last barrier to Al Franken's election as U.S. Senator from Minnesota crumbled Tuesday, as Republican incumbent Norm Coleman finally conceded the contest.

Coleman's concession came after the Minnesota Supreme Court confirmed what everyone pretty much knew: The voters chose Franken, the Democratic Farmer Labor Party candidate over Coleman in last fall's U.S. Senate election.

While the election result was close, the court's decision was not.

The justices ruled 5-0 that: "Al Franken received the highest number of
votes legally cast and is entitled [under Minnesota law] to receive the
certificate of election as United States Senator from the State of

Under Minnesota law, the court's decision gave Franken the right to
occupy the seat that a series of recounts and official reviews
confirmed was won by the satirist with a narrow but steady margin that
ultimately expanded to 312 votes.

The unanimous ruling left little wiggle room for Coleman, whose
dead-ender appeals have been funded by Republican donors from around
the country as well as stipends from the campaign funds of sitting GOP

And Coleman threw in the towel with a relatively gracious statement less than an hour after the court made its decision known.

Minnesota Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty, who has delayed signing the
certification of election that Franken needed to become the 60th
Democratic member of the current Senate, has said he will certify
Franken as the winner.

So it is that, by the time the Senate returns from its July 4
recess, Democrats will have a caucus that includes 58 party members and
two independents (Vermont's Bernie Sanders and Connecticut's Joe
Lieberman) who sit with the majority.

That's the "magic" 60 that allows a majority party to avert filibusters and schedule votes on legislation and nominations.

With Republicans sticking to their "party of no" strategy -- and
maintaining remarkable unity in their negativity -- the seating of
Franken will have significance. It won't mean that the majority party
can have its way with the Senate, as there will continue to be cases
where individual Democrats break ranks. But it does mean that the will
of the American electorate -- which voted overwhelmingly in the last
two election cycles for a Democratic Congress -- will be more difficult
for Rush Limbaugh's rejectionists to thwart.

© 2023 The Nation