Capitol Hill Bureau Chief
Al Franken dusted off an eight-month old victory speech in Minnesota today after being declared the winner in the state's 2008 Senate race. "I am thrilled and honored by the faith Minnesotans have placed in me," he said. (For Politics Daily's
take of what it means, see Jill Lawrence's in-depth analysis HERE
In a unanimous ruling released earlier today, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in favor of Franken and against Norm Coleman in his challenge to the November election results.
In the 5-0 opinion
, the justices wrote, "We affirm the decision of the trial court that Al Franken received the highest number of votes legally cast and is entitled...to receive the certificate of election as United States Senator from the State of Minnesota." They ruled against Coleman on each of the five points he raised in objecting to the results of the November election.
At a press conference in front of his St. Paul house hours later, Norm Coleman conceded the election to his opponent. "I join all Minnesotans in congratulating our newest United States senator, Al Franken." Coleman also said he will not appeal the court's decision any further. "We have reached the point where further litigation damages the unity of our state state."
Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, announced that he will sign the election certificate required for a senator from the state to be seated. "In light of (the court's) decision and Sen. Coleman's announcement that he will not be pursuing an appeal, I will be signing the election certificate today."
The addition of Franken to the U.S. Senate will give Democrats a 60-vote majority, theoretically filibuster proof, heading into a legislative session that will include big-ticket items like health care reform, energy and climate change legislation and possibly immigration reform.
Welcoming the 60th vote to Washington, President Obama said, "I look forward to working with Senator-Elect Franken to build a new foundation for growth and prosperity by lowering health care costs and investing in the kind of clean energy jobs and industries that will help America lead in the 21st century."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office said that Franken will be seated as soon as the Secretary of the Senate receives the signed election certificate from Gov. Pawlenty, most likely early next week.
This afternoon, Franken acknowledged his status as the 60th vote, but said that's not what he's focused on. "I'm not going to Washington to be the 60th Democrat. I'm going to be the second senator from Minnesota."