Franken Inches Forward To Claiming Senate Lead

Franken Inches Forward To Claiming Senate Lead

Staffers for Al Franken, who once worried that the Minnesota Democrat would fall short against Republican Sen. Norm Coleman even after a recount, now seem optimistic that their candidate will be thrust into the lead before the recount even takes place.

The Franken team had their spirits bolstered today when it was announced that the deficit they face in their still-to-be-decided election against Norm Coleman was reduced by 100 votes.

A county official in Minnesota had accidentally entered 24 votes for Franken instead of 124 when he and other election officials submitted the tally at 5:25 A.M Wednesday. And so, the Democratic challenger is now just 237 votes behind the Republican incumbent. If history is any guide, the results could keep changing even before the state gets to its automatic recount.

Currently, Minnesota's 87 counties are conducting a review of their election results. During this process, the vote totals for the two candidates have gone up and down with some regularity. While Franken picked up 100 votes in Pine County, Coleman received 11 additional votes in Sherburne. In another county, absentee ballots were mistakenly typed in twice on election night, impacting 250 votes there.

Taken as a whole, the situation is far less stable than the Coleman campaign has been claiming. And it could get even cloudier.

During the 2006 Minnesota Senate race, the vote totals for both candidates changed far more drastically than the roughly 300-vote margin that currently separates the two candidates this year. In that election, Republican Mark Kennedy lost 3,520 votes between the day after the election and the final certification. Meanwhile, Democrat Amy Klobuchar lost 666 votes. All in all, the size of her victory actually went up by 2,854 votes.

If Franken does take the lead before the recount, his campaign can point to a statement made by Coleman just the other day in which he insisted that, were he in Franken's position, he would take himself out of the race.

If I were trailing, "I would step back," said the Senator. "I just think the need for a healing process is so important [and] the possibility that any change of magnitude is so remote."

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