They are still counting the votes in Minnesota for the Senate race between Republican Senator Norm Coleman and the Democrat candidate Al Franken and there are suggestions today that it may be well in to the new year before a decision is finally made about who won. At the moment the incumbet Sen. Coleman is some 200 votes in the lead but the Democrats are crying foul because some absentee ballots which favour their man have been excluded. It is becoming a wonderful occasions for the lawyers with challenges in the courts and a reference to the Senate as the finla arbiter quite probable.
The other state where a Senator has yet to be chosen is Georgia where Sen. Saxby Chambliss and Democratic challenger Jim Martin take part in a run-off ballot next week after neither got to 50% of the vote on 4 November. The Crikey election indicator puts the Republican as a 93.5% chance of victory.
Should the bolter get up and take the Democrats to 59 Senate seats then an attempt to have the Senate decide would demonstrate clearly what is at stake in Minnesota. The Republicans would engage in one of those filibusters where Senators just keep talking so that a vote cannot be taken. The Democrats need to get to the magic number of 60 to be able to stop this time honoured American political tradition which has been such an impediment to progress over the centuries.
The Wall Street Journal recalls this morning how in 1975, the Senate refused to accept New Hampshire's certification that Republican Louis Wyman had won by two votes. The seat was vacant for seven months, with the Senate debate spanning 100 hours and six unsuccessful attempts to break a filibuster and vote on who should be seated. The impasse ended only when a special election was agreed to, which was won by Democrat John Durkin.
The Crikey election indicator on the Minnesota race puts the Republicans as a 65% chance of ending up with the Senator.