Coleman loses ground to Franken in appeal

Norm Coleman just made his appeal more difficult.

His challenge to the Minnesota Senate result sought to add thousands of rejected absentee ballots to the tally — and those ballots ended up breaking sharply for Democrat Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenGOP Senate candidate says Trump, Republicans will surprise in Minnesota Peterson faces fight of his career in deep-red Minnesota district Getting tight — the psychology of cancel culture MORE.

Franken’s lead was extended to 312 votes Tuesday, after about 350 improperly rejected absentee ballots were added to the ballot pool.

The total is 87 more votes than Franken led by at the beginning of the day and all but assures that Coleman’s court challenge will fail.

The blow is not unexpected; Coleman’s lawyers have indicated they had little chance, given the small number of absentee ballots added to the count, and have signaled they will appeal to the state Supreme Court and possibly federal court.

Franken led by 225 votes after the recount phase. Coleman challenged the results before a three-judge panel, and the absentee ballots were the centerpiece of his effort to overturn his deficit.

Of the 351 absentees added to the count Tuesday, 198 went to Franken, 111 went to Coleman and 42 went to a third pile, “other.”


Reid clears the field

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidThe Supreme Court vacancy — yet another congressional food fight Trump seeks to turn around campaign with Supreme Court fight On The Trail: Battle over Ginsburg replacement threatens to break Senate MORE (D-Nev.) has ensured there will be no Republicans gunning for his seat.

It’s always dangerous to be a party leader from a state that isn’t entirely Democratic or Republican — just ask former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), who lost his seat in 2004, or Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump 'no longer angry' at Romney because of Supreme Court stance On The Money: Anxious Democrats push for vote on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi, Mnuchin ready to restart talks | Weekly jobless claims increase | Senate treads close to shutdown deadline The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump faces backlash after not committing to peaceful transition of power MORE (R-Ky.), who had a scare in 2008. And while Nevada may be trending Democratic, recent polls have shown Reid’s favorable ratings dangerously low.

So the soft-spoken yet sharp-elbowed Reid is taking no chances.

In what many have described as an organized campaign — one strategist called it a series of “kneecappings” — stretching over the past several cycles, Reid has systematically eliminated virtually every potential challenger he could face this year.

Reid helped Rep. Dina Titus (D) knock off ex-Rep. Jon Porter (R) in 2008. He helped recruit a successful challenger to former state Sen. Joe Heck (R), seen as another top GOP potential.

And, in what may just be a spot of good luck, just days after Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki (R) announced he would challenge the sitting senator, Krolicki was indicted for felony misappropriation of funds relating to his tenure as state treasurer.

Clearly, Reid has learned from his predecessors’ mistakes. After all, he began calling around to gain support for his bid for Democratic leader just hours after it became obvious Daschle would lose his seat in 2004.


Kentucky’s complex calculus

Like it or not, the two major factions within the Kentucky Democratic Party are going to have to engage in a marriage of convenience if they are to successfully knock off Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) next year.

On one side stands Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo (D), the only announced candidate taking on Bunning, and Gov. Steve Beshear (D), who endorsed Mongiardo’s second try at knocking off Bunning (albeit in a press release that can be described as tepid and that was sent late on a Friday).

On the other side are Attorney General Jack Conway (D), state Auditor Crit Luallen (D) and Rep. Ben Chandler (D), all of whom are said to be considering their own bids but who are coordinating to avoid running against each other. Conway seems most likely to make the bid, and Chandler has been making calls around Kentucky to line up donors for the attorney general, according to sources.

The real trouble: With Mongiardo running for Senate, Beshear needs to select a new running mate for his 2011 reelection bid, and he’s likely going to have to dip into the Luallen-Chandler-Conway faction to do so.

Kentucky sources say Luallen, the state’s top vote-getter in 2007, is the early front-runner for the No. 2 slot, though Chandler has made no secret of his desire to follow his grandfather, A.B. “Happy” Chandler, to the governor’s mansion eventually.

If Beshear picks Luallen to run with him, it could put the ticket in the awkward position of endorsing different candidates in the Democratic primary against Bunning.

National Democrats have indicated they would prefer that either Chandler or Conway take a shot at the seat, causing fits among Mongiardo backers. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee conducted a poll in the state in late March, though so far the committee has refused to make those results public.


So much for a
political recession …

The latest talk is that political giving has fallen off amid the country’s economic troubles, but maybe we’re speaking too soon.

Already this week, three Senate candidates have reported raising more than $1 million during the first quarter of 2009. Appointed Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandSunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election Suburban moms are going to decide the 2020 election Jon Stewart urges Congress to help veterans exposed to burn pits MORE (D-N.Y.) said she raised $2.3 million; Illinois state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D) said he raised $1.1 million; and Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D) said he raised $1 million.

For comparison’s sake, a look back at the 2008 cycle showed just five open-seat candidates and challengers raised over $1 million in their first quarter of fundraising. And that’s for the whole cycle, not just the first three months of the off-year.

Three of the five were incumbent congressmen, one was an appointed senator (like Gillibrand), and one was Minnesota’s Al Franken, who used a high-spending, high-yield fundraising strategy that made him the top fundraiser of any candidate or incumbent in the country.

In fact, most of the biggest names in the country didn’t raise even close to $1 million in their initial efforts.

It’s important to consider where these numbers are coming from, too. New York, Illinois and Ohio are all big states with expensive media markets and will generally involve bigger sums of money. We’re also talking about well-connected statewide officeholders running for open seats.

But it’s apparent that, for the biggest races in the country at least, the money is still available.