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Published: Monday, 1/5/2009

Franken on top in Minnesota recount; Coleman to sue

ASSOCIATED PRESS

ST. PAUL A Minnesota board on Monday certified results showing Democrat Al Franken winning the state s U.S. Senate recount over Republican Norm Coleman, whose lawyer promised a legal challenge that will keep the race in limbo for weeks.

The Canvassing Board s declaration started a seven-day clock for Coleman, the incumbent, to file a lawsuit protesting the result. His attorney Tony Trimble said the challenge will be filed within 24 hours.

The challenge will keep Franken from getting the election certificate he needs to take the seat in Washington. Trimble said the process is now just at the beginning.

Franken, a former Saturday Night Live personality, ended the recount up by 225 votes, an astonishingly thin margin in a race where more than 2.9 million votes were cast. The recount reversed the unofficial Election Day results, which showed Coleman with a 215-vote lead.

Franken made up the deficit over seven tortuous weeks of ballot-sifting in part by prevailing on challenges that both campaigns brought to thousands of ballots. He also did better than Coleman when election officials opened and counted more than 900 absentee ballots that had erroneously been disqualified on Election Day.

Coleman s lawyers have argued that some ballots were mishandled and others were wrongly excluded from the recount, giving Franken an unfair advantage. After a Minnesota Supreme Court decision went against Coleman earlier Monday, lead attorney Fritz Knaak said a lawsuit was inevitable.

A lawsuit would extend the fight over the seat for months.



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