IT’S ABOUT MORE THAN VOTE COUNTING…. The Senate Democratic caucus has 58 members. It should be 59, but what Minnesota’s Norm Coleman lacks in votes he makes up for in lawyers.

The status quo, which could last quite a while longer, is a 99-member Senate, harder-to-break filibusters, and Minnesotans with less of a voice and fewer constituent services.

The Republican establishment is content to leave it this way indefinitely.

Having just seen what President Barack Obama can do with 58 Democrats in the Senate, Republicans are more determined than ever to keep him from getting a 59th. Especially if the 59th is Al Franken.

Franken, the former comedian, leads Republican Norm Coleman by 225 votes in a “Groundhog Day” of an election that dawned more than three months ago and shows no signs of ending soon.

Which is exactly how Senate Republicans want it. The National Republican Senatorial Committee held a ritzy fundraiser for Coleman in Washington this week, helping him raise the money he needs to keep his legal challenges alive through a trial and then a lengthy legal process if he loses.

How long should Coleman hold out? “However long it takes,” says Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who chairs the NRSC. […]

Republicans insist that they’re simply helping a colleague fight to make sure that all the votes are counted.

Riiiiiight. Senate Republicans want to drag out the Minnesota fight for as long as humanly possible because of their deeply held commitment to vote counting. Of course they are.

There’s no reason to doubt their love of democratic principles, is there?

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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.