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Coleman sues over Minnesota Senate recount result

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By BRIAN BAKST and PATRICK CONDON
The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 7, 2009; 12:29 AM

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Republican Norm Coleman filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging Democrat Al Franken's apparent recount victory in Minnesota's U.S. Senate race, delaying a resolution of the contest for weeks or months.

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At a Capitol news conference filled with cheering supporters, Coleman said he won't accept a board's determination a day earlier that Franken captured 225 more votes in the November election. He had a seven-day window to file the lawsuit.

"We are filing this contest to make absolutely sure every valid vote was counted and no one's was counted more than anyone else's," Coleman said.

Coleman shrugged off the idea that he might concede the election to avoid a protracted fight that could leave Minnesota with only a single senator in Washington for months.

"Something greater than expediency is at stake here," Coleman said. He added: "Democracy is not a machine. Sometimes it's messy and inconvenient, and reaching the best conclusion is never quick because speed is not the first objective, fairness is."

State law prevents officials from issuing an election certificate until legal matters are resolved.

Franken attorney Marc Elias called Coleman's lawsuit "essentially the same thin gruel, warmed-over leftovers from meals we've all been served over the last few weeks."

He said that Coleman has the right to sue, but that doesn't mean his claims have merit, and he is confident Franken would prevail.

Franken e-mailed supporters Tuesday to request donations to continue the fight, just as Coleman did a day earlier.

Coleman, whose term expired Saturday, led Franken by 215 votes in the Nov. 4 count but that advantage flipped during a prolonged recount.

In going to court, Coleman has three big challenges: raising money to pay escalating legal bills, proving the election was flawed and managing the public's desire to have the race over.

"They definitely have an uphill fight on their hands," said Guy-Uriel Charles, a professor of election and constitutional law at the University of Minnesota. "Their legal theory will have to overcome a burden of proof, and then they have to find enough votes to overcome Franken's lead."


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