Embattled former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman has at least one diehard advocate in his corner: Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who says he'd be happy to support a further Coleman appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
That assumes, of course, that the Minnesota Supreme Court rejects Coleman's current appeal of an earlier panel's ruling that declared Democrat Al Franken the winner by 312 votes out of about 3 million ballots cast.
"We'll do everything we can to support Norm as long as he has appellate remedies to purse," said Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
A ruling by the state's highest court could come any day now. Most legal experts expect the justices to announce their decision before the July 4 recess.
"I'm not suggesting Norm has this plan in mind," Cornyn hastened to add, "because frankly I think he's hopeful it turns out well at the state Supreme Court."
Cornyn made his remarks to reporter David Weigel of The Washington Independent.
He told The Washington Independent that if the state supreme court orders Minnesota officials to sign off on Franken's election certificate, Coleman could immediately appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
A single U.S. Supreme Court justice could then issue a stay to halt the presentation of an election certificate, to give the entire court time to review the Coleman appeal, according to Cornyn.
The stakes are high because seating Franken would give Senate Democrats the coveted 60th vote needed to override any Republican filibuster of legislation.
Cornyn tells the Independent that staving off a Democratic supermajority would not be the primary reason he'd support a further Coleman appeal, however. "I'm very proud of Norm Coleman for fighting the good fight to protect the right of Minnesota voters to make sure all legitimate votes are counted," Cornyn said.
Coleman's election lawsuit alleges that different standards were applied by different counties in determining which of the state's approximately 10,000 absentee ballots to count.
On Tuesday, Hubbard Broadcasting, whose largest station is KSTP-TV in the Twin Cities area, filed freedom of information requests with every Minnesota county, asking to view all 10,000 absentee ballots and envelopes.
The broadcast group's attorneys pledge to preserve voter anonymity during their proposed review.
"As part of the project, we want to count the ballots and try to determine how different counties decide to reject absentee ballots," KSTP explains in a story posted on its Web site.
The Minnesota Supreme Court usually releases its findings on Thursday mornings, but is free to announce its decisions at any time. If Coleman's appeal is rejected, he could opt to concede the election, or could appeal to a federal court.
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