Minnesotans want two senators

MINNESOTANS WANT TWO SENATORS…. Patience continues to wear thin in Minnesota.

Nearly two-thirds of Minnesotans surveyed think Norm Coleman should concede the U.S. Senate race to Al Franken, but just as many believe the voting system that gave the state its longest running election contest needs improvement.

A new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll has found that 64 percent of those responding believe Coleman, the Republican, should accept the recount trial court’s April 13 verdict that Democrat Franken won the race by 312 votes.

Only 28 percent consider last week’s appeal by Coleman to the Minnesota Supreme Court “appropriate.”

If the state Supreme Court rules against Coleman, 73% of Minnesotans want to see Coleman concede. Since, on Election Day, both of the major-party candidates only won about 42% of the vote, it suggests a whole lot of Coleman voters are ready to see their guy wrap this up. Indeed, 57% of Minnesota Republicans want to see Coleman quit if he loses at the state’s highest court.

One Coleman voter told the Star Tribune, “Obviously, the Republican Party is trying to keep Franken’s vote out of the United States Senate. We should get another [senator] in there.”

What I’m most curious about is whether Coleman cares. If he loses at the Minnesota Supreme Court, the former senator will no doubt be tempted to keep the fight going by taking his case to the federal judiciary. In fact, the Republican establishment, anxious to keep the Senate Democratic caucus at 58, will no doubt beg Coleman to keep appealing, indefinitely, no matter how disgusted Minnesotans become.

So, what does Coleman do? If he plans on seeking public office again in the future, he’ll almost certainly have to quit after the next court defeat. To do otherwise would do irreparable harm to what’s left of Coleman’s reputation. If, however, he feels like this is his last hurrah, does he drag this out even more, regardless of the consequences for Minnesota? And at what point does Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) intervene?

I’m reluctant to even guess.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

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.