Coleman and Franken Gear Up for a Date in Court
The Minnesota Senate race is so close (Coleman is ahead by 206 votes) that a recount is required by law.
Back in the old days, a recount meant that county officials went and counted the votes again.
Nowadays it means it's lawyer time. Both Al Franken (D) and Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) are preparing
over absentee ballots where the voter or a county official made some clerical error on the envelope.
The election could hinge on how these court cases turn out. On the one hand, the law says that
a vote lacking a full address is invalid, so an absentee ballot without a zip code is invalid.
On the other hand, Minnesota law is designed to count every vote if the intent of the voter can be
determied, which argues against discarding ballots on minor technical grounds (no zip code, signed on
the wrong line, etc.), when everything else is perfectly in order. Hundreds of absentee ballots have been
voided for reasons like this and what happens to them may determine the outcome of the election.
Republicans Nervous about Ejecting Stevens from the Caucus
Senate Republicans are meeting to choose their leaders today and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is going to
introduce a motion to eject convicted felon Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) from the caucus and deny him a
vote on the leadership positions. Other Republicans would
that the Stevens' problem just goes away by itself so they don't have to vote on it. (English translation:
they are hoping he loses his reelection battle to Anchorage mayor Mark Begich). Unfortunately, the
results of the election won't be known until tomorrow at the earliest, so the Republicans may be
forced to decide whether they want to allow Stevens to vote today.
Democrats Nervous about Ejecting Lieberman from the Caucus
Republicans aren't the only ones facing an uncomfortable vote today. Senate Democrats are going to
meet today to decide the fate of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who caucuses with the Democrats (and holds
committee positions as though he were a Democrat) but who supported John McCain's presidential run.
Since the Democrats are within hailing distance of 60 seats, some of them want to keep Lieberman inside
the tent and give him a slap on the wrist by taking away his
but allowing him to remain chairman of the homeland security committee. Others want to strip him of his
powerful chairmanship and the subpoena power that goes with it.
Waxman (69) Woos the Youth Vote in House Battle
Rep. Henry Waxman, a mere stripling by House standards at 69, is challenging one of the old bulls,
John Dingell (82), for the chairmanship of the House energy and commerce committee. He is
among newly elected members who haven't even been sworn in yet and who don't remember the days when
chairmen like Dingell ruled with an iron fist. Waxman is a strong environmentalist and reformer and is
popular with younger members; older ones fear Dingell and know that he is not someone you want as an
enemy. The vote is tomorrow. The lobbying is today.
Fault Lines within the GOP Fall along a Generational Divide
At Republican meetings last week the opinions differed sharply as to what went wrong and how to fix it
according to a
Older Republicans, like Mississippi governor (and former RNC chairman) Haley Barbour, think the problem
was that John McCain didn't do his best (English translation: if he had talked about Rev. Jeremiah Wright 24/7
we would have won). Other leaders said it was 90-10 wrong track, so it wasn't really their fault (although
he didn't mention whose fault it was that it was 90-10 wrong track). Younger leaders, like Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN)
pointed out what is obvious to everyone else--that Republicans can't compete at all in the Northeast or on the West
Coast, are in big trouble in the Midwest and are having increasing problems in the Mountain West. Throw in
serious difficulties with women, younger voters, Latinos, and African Americans, and a comb-over is not going to solve the
problem. Republican pollster Frank Luntz argued that the party's problems were real and urgent. Nobody thought
there was a problem with the underlying philosophy, but there was a lot of
disagreement about what steps needed to be taken, especially with the Democrats controlling 29
governorships and twice as many state legislatures as the Republicans, what with the 2010 redistricting looming.
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