The never-ending story

THE NEVER-ENDING STORY…. Al Franken spoke to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune the other day, and noted that while the legal process continues to drag out, he tries to keep things in perspective. “As life’s challenges go, this is pretty low on the totem pole,” Franken said. “Our kids are OK, we’re not in danger of losing our home to foreclosure. We’re fine.”

He conceded, though, that he occasionally finds himself “grumpy.” Franken added, “And I’ll go, ‘Why am I grumpy?’ Oh, I know why — waiting for five and a half months to see what happens! (laughing) That’s why.”

In light of Arlen Specter’s party switch, the likelihood of a much longer wait seems to have gone up. It’s going to make a lot of people “grumpy.”

Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter’s shocking decision last week to become a Democrat has upped the ante in the never-ending Minnesota Senate race, providing a strong incentive for Republicans to hold out until every last appeal is exhausted.

With former Sen. Norm Coleman now standing between Democrats and their 60-seat supermajority, the GOP is prepared to back the Republican’s appeal to the federal level if even a shred of doubt emerges in the case currently before the Minnesota Supreme Court.

“This makes it pretty darn important,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, of the race following Specter’s switch. “I expect they will pursue the appeals until they are exhausted, whenever that may be…. I would assume if they were unsuccessful in the Minnesota Supreme Court, there may very well be an appeal to the United States Supreme Court.”

Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.), perhaps concerned with his own political future, may have been more inclined to sign Franken’s election certificate after the state Supreme Court rules against Coleman, but with GOP fears over the number 60, it seems more likely than not that Pawlenty and other Republicans will do whatever they can to drag this process out indefinitely. Cornyn, you’ll recall, said not too long ago that he’d like to see the matter remain unresolved for “years.”

One thing to keep an eye on is whether Senate Democrats try to seat Franken — after the state Supreme Court ruling, without the governor’s signature. If Harry Reid can keep his caucus together on this, he’d need just one Republican vote to end this farce and fill Minnesota’s vacancy.