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Senate Status

November 14th, 2008

Things are looking pretty good for Democrats in Alaska and Minnesota. In Alaska, Democrat Mark Begich now actually holds the lead, as early votes and absentee ballots continue to come in. First, a report came out when Begich passed Stevens and led by three votes; at the end of the day, Begich led Stevens by 814 votes, a turn-around from Stevens’ initial 3,000-vote lead. Some 35,000 votes still remain to be counted, but they promise more of the same, and it is unlikely that Stevens will recover. Still, it’s not over till it’s over.

In Minnesota, things are looking good for Al Franken. How can you tell? Because his Republican opponent, Norm Coleman, is so worried about the recount showing that Franken won that he has gone into full-fledged Florida-2000 mode, and is desperately screaming to everyone who will listen about how the recount is corrupt and invalid. Unfortunately, unlike Bush in 2000, Coleman faces a mandatory recount, does not have Katherine Harris skewing for him, cannot depend on the Supreme Court to select him, and cannot hold the whole country hostage by threatening to withhold the junior Senator from Minnesota from the people–it’s just not as urgent as not having a president.

Despite the right wing’s tinfoil-hat claims of election fraud, reports have been that the recount process has been strongly credible; even one Coleman staffer professed surprise at how transparent the process is, and the Republican governor confirmed that he sees no fraud or irregularities with the vote count. Meanwhile, Franken’s team has not been allowing Coleman’s legions of lawyers overrun them; Franken has sued for the release of voter lists which could reveal illicitly disqualified votes, citing one example of a woman who suffered a stroke being disenfranchised because her signature no longer matched.

With the recount, Coleman’s lead (already down to 206 from his initial lead of 725) stands to evaporate just like Stevens’ did. That would bring the Dems up to 59 votes, much closer to a bulletproof majority which could stifle Republican plans to obstruct progress and shut down Obama’s ability to carry out his promises.

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