MINNESOTA END GAME…. It certainly looks like the unresolved Senate race in Minnesota is over.

DFLer Al Franken won an impressive share Saturday of what may be the last ballots tallied in the U.S. Senate recount, boosting his unofficial lead over Sen. Norm Coleman to 225 votes heading into a Monday meeting where the state Canvassing Board will certify the final result of the race.

At least two things, however, still stand in the way of Franken becoming Minnesota’s newest U.S. senator: the possibility of a ruling by the Minnesota Supreme Court that more wrongly rejected absentee ballots should be counted, and a legal contest that Coleman attorneys all but promised should Franken prevail.

It took only an hour Saturday afternoon for election officials to count 933 absentee ballots that all sides had agreed were wrongly rejected. Franken won 52 percent of them and Coleman captured 33 percent (the rest went to other candidates or cast no vote in the Senate race). It was a surprisingly muscular margin that was reflected in the glum looks of Coleman staffers and the satisfied appearance of Franken’s staff.

Franken started the day with an unofficial lead of 49 votes. He achieved a net gain of 176 votes on Saturday.

The state Canvassing Board will meet tomorrow to, in all likelihood, certify the final result and declare Al Franken the senator-elect, just in time for the 111th Congress to convene on Tuesday

So, it’s over, right? I’m afraid not.

Two months ago, Coleman, when he thought the vote tallies favored his re-election, announced that he would concede if he were losing. As he saw it, the day after the election, it was “important” for the “healing process” that voters not be put through a prolonged fight.

Now, however, on the eve of being declared the official loser of the race, Coleman and his attorneys are threatening to file as many lawsuits as necessary to challenge the official results, and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn of Texas has vowed to filibuster any effort to seat Franken, even after the state Canvassing Board declares him the winner.

This could go on for a while. So much for the “importance” of the “healing process.”

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.