So after the long, long battle in court, Sen. Norm Coleman (R) has conceded to Al Franken (D).
Appearing in St. Paul, Minnesota, Coleman smiled and urged unity. He didn't look particularly upset, and he didn't look like the decision had hit him particularly hard. As reporters questioned him about his political past and future, instead of waving them away, he answered calmly.
"I've been blessed to represent the greatest state in the nation," Coleman said. "I'm proud of my 32 years of public service, and I'm here today to offer my congratulations to Al Franken."
Coleman said he'll start "talking a little bit about what my future is" next week, and that he won't have any word about his next step until then. Though he's had time to think about it, that future may be up in the air; after holding office and losing a statewide race, it can be difficult to win another one.
The fact that he challenged the result for seven months probably won't help his future. During that time, he drew fire from liberals across the country for drawing the battle out in court, calling him a spoiler as they chomped at the bit for Democrats to get their 60th seat, sort of like a kid on Christmas morning, forced to wait for a Nintendo Wii. Americans United for Change actually placed a billboard along I-94 between Minneapolis and St. Paul blasting Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) for not certifying Franken ahead of the court's decision.
But today, Coleman didn't look like the sore loser. In terms of demeanor, he handled himself pretty well--and it's a good thing for Republicans too, because as liberal shots at Coleman veered toward Pawlenty, the national GOP surely would have caught flak for a federal challenge to the Minnesota Supreme Court result, particularly one backed by the GOP establishment and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, whose donors don't want a 60th Democrat in the Senate. Same if Coleman had been less than gracious.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, for his part, approved. "After having more votes on Election Day, he made a great personal sacrifice to pursue an accurate account of the vote for Minnesotans. For that, and his dedicated service on behalf of Minnesota, he should be commended," McConnell said in an official statement.
The dispute had gone long enough, from Election Day to absentee ballot counting to a supervised recount and then through the courts, and round 125 would have brought with it a round of attack lines and fundraising emails from the Democratic Party ginning up distaste and anger at the ongoing battle that, before today, people were already tired of.
Coleman did well to prevent all that with his his demeanor today. He said he'd talked to Pawlenty before making the announcement, helping the governor avoid any conservative fire he potentially could take for certifying Franken.
"I did talk to the governor and let him know that I was coming out here to make his life a little easier," Coleman said. With his eyes rumored to be on the White Hosue 2012, Pawlenty doesn't need life to be any harder.
"I think for all Minnesotans, this is a time to look forward. We've got two U.S. senators in a challenging time, and let's work together for a brighter future," Coleman said. "God bless."
And with that, he walked away from the gaggle of reporters and the ordeal was over.
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