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Senate GOP prepared to fight if Dems try to seat Franken

  • Story Highlights
  • GOP senator vows to filibuster if Democrat is seated in Senate
  • Republicans want officials to certify winner in tight Minnesota race
  • Minnesota canvassing board could declare winner next week
  • Franken leads incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman by about 50 votes
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By Chris Welch
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MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) -- Sen. John Cornyn weighed in on Minnesota's close and still unresolved U.S. Senate race, saying Friday that no one should be seated until a winner is made official by both Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Democrat Al Franken leads by roughly 50 votes in the contested Minnesota Senate race.

Sen. John Cornyn says Republican senators will filibuster if the Democrats try to seat Al Franken.

Democratic challenger Al Franken holds a lead of about 50 votes over Republican incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman, but this number does not reflect what could be more than a thousand improperly rejected absentee ballots still to be tallied.

No matter the results, officials have said there will almost certainly be court challenges.

Minnesota's other senator, Democrat Amy Klobuchar, told the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune this week that if the state Canvassing Board -- which is tasked with tallying votes -- certifies a winner, the Senate should "consider seating that person pending litigation."

Klobuchar's statement prompted Cornyn, a Republican from Texas and the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, to threaten a filibuster to block Democrats from seating Franken before an official certificate is signed by Ritchie and Pawlenty.

The governor and secretary of state are barred by Minnesota law from making the election official until all legal proceedings have been completed.

"It is very clear that the people of Minnesota and the courts in Minnesota should make the decision about who won the Minnesota Senate election and not political leaders in Washington, D.C.," he said.

Klobuchar spokesman Ross Corson told CNN that the senator had only said it would "be an option to look at for the Senate, to consider seating the person who is certified by the Canvassing Board."

The new Congress will be sworn in Tuesday, and it's unlikely a certificate would be signed by then. Speculation over what could happen in the interim included the possibility that the Democratic-controlled body would provisionally seat Franken if he remains in the lead.

"There will be no way that people on our side of the aisle will agree to seat any senator provisionally or otherwise," Cornyn said.

The Coleman campaign is hoping the Minnesota Supreme Court will intervene over the issue of the improperly rejected absentee ballots because, it says, there is no uniform standard for local officials and the campaigns to review and count them.

On Friday, the court asked the Franken campaign, the secretary of state's office, and seven counties to supply any response to the Coleman campaign's petition by Saturday morning.

Earlier, the high court ruled that rejected absentee ballots could be counted only if the Canvassing Board and both campaigns agreed that a ballot had been improperly rejected. The court ordered the parties to come up with a plan to review those ballots.

It's also possible for a legal challenge to be filed after the secretary of state certifies the results. The Coleman campaign has hinted at the increasing likelihood that it would again go to the high court, which could mean a resolution would still be weeks away.

The secretary of state's office is scheduled to tally improperly rejected absentee ballots this weekend and could have a result as early as Monday, though the meaning of any such result without a governor's signature remains to be seen.

All About Al FrankenNorm ColemanJohn CornynMinnesota

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