This morning’s Star Tribune featured a nugget from University of Minnesota professor Larry Jacobs, who said that former Senator Norm Coleman’s legal circus might hurt Norm Coleman’s political future, including a potential run for Governor.
The longer he stays in and fights, it diminishes his chances of running for governor, which seems like a real possibility. In some people’s eyes there’s just irritation that this has gone on. That’s not necessarily fair. Norm Coleman’s decision to enter the [trial] is entirely legitimate and appropriate.
But for independent voters and voters who don’t follow things very closely, the recount and now the contested election has eroded his support."
Jacobs is right: voters are growing increasingly impatient with Coleman’s decision to stand in the way of the change Minnesotans voted for last November. The Rush Limbaugh wing of the Republican party has been encouraging Norm to keep the election results in the courts for as long as possible for partisan gain.
Top Republicans are encouraging Coleman to be as litigious as possible and take his fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if he loses this round, believing that an elongated court fight is worth it if they can continue to deny Democrats the 59th Senate seat that Franken would represent.
And in pushing a possible Supreme Court conclusion, Republicans are raising case history that makes Democrats shudder: Bush v. Gore.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Friday first blessed the idea of encouraging Coleman to take his fight into federal appeals court and potentially all the way up to the Supreme Court. On Monday, several top Republicans continued pushing the federal courts angle, which could delay the Minnesota Senate race for several more months.
Coleman, who spent much of the 2008 election trying to paint himself as a moderate (despite his strong ties to Big Oil, Big Pharma, and the financial services industry) has to be smart enough to realize it’s over — he lost.
So why keep up his legal battle? Is he really eyeing the Governor’s mansion? If Coleman thinks that’s Pawlenty’s national ambitions will have him moving to Iowa and not running for re-election, what does that say about Pawlenty (who hems and haws when he’s asked if he’s running for President) or Coleman (whose legal challenges are denying Minnesotans full representation in Congress)?
Even if Coleman isn’t thinking about 2010, he’s definitely putting his own interests ahead of what’s best for everyday Minnesotans.