Republican Norm Coleman is defending the planned appeal of his Senate election lawsuit to the Minnesota Supreme Court, even if it means the state is short a U.S. senator for several more weeks.
"We need it to get over, but I tell folks this is not fast-food justice," Coleman said while on talk radio with Fargo, N.D.-based host Scott Hennen. "We need to make sure that all votes that should be counted are counted."
The former senator trails Democrat Al Franken by 312 votes after another batch of previously rejected absentee ballots was counted this week. Three judges presiding over Coleman's election lawsuit could issue their final verdict at any time, starting a 10-day clock for an appeal.
Coleman said on AM 1100 The Flag that his claim of unequal treatment of absentee ballots is worthy of appellate court review. He said he expects the next step to extend into mid-May. Minnesota has one senator in the meantime.
"I'm confident because the votes that are out there are votes that will turn a tide here," Coleman said. "There's no question about that. They come from mostly Republican areas because the votes from the Democrat areas have already been counted."
Jess McIntosh, a Franken spokeswoman, disputed Coleman's claim about the composition of ballots already in the count, particularly the ones opened on Tuesday.
"Independent media analysis confirmed that the majority of the ballots counted by the court this week came from counties that Coleman carried," McIntosh said.
Meanwhile, leaders of the state Democratic and Republican parties held dueling news conferences Thursday over the drawn-out election battle.
Republican Party chairman Ron Carey said the GOP would be urging Coleman supporters to write letters to newspapers, call into talk radio shows and sign petitions seeking the inclusion of 4,400 more votes contained in rejected absentee ballots.
"It's the way we do things in Minnesota," Carey said. "We do not leave one single voter behind no matter how convenient or politically expedient it might be."
Ninety minutes later, DFL chairman Brian Melendez stepped up his party's public relations efforts, showing off a Web video that points viewers to an Internet petition asking Coleman to concede.
"Losing an election is never easy. But every election is lost by somebody," Melendez said. "And at some point Coleman must put Minnesota's interests before his own."
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)