Declaring “the eyes of the nation are on Minnesota,” incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman pledged Tuesday afternoon to file a lawsuit and continue his Senate reelection battle in the courts.
In his first public remarks since Monday’s certification of Democratic challenger Al Franken as the winner of the Senate recount in Minnesota, Coleman spoke to the media in St. Paul, Minn., shortly before 4 p.m. Eastern time.
“The eyes of the nation are on Minnesota and we need to show them we’ve done everything we can to make sure every vote counts,” Coleman said.
In a brief but spirited news conference, Coleman also rebuffed a call by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., for him to concede the race to Franken.
“This race will be determined by Minnesota voters, not by Harry Reid,” Coleman said.
The Republican again voiced confidence that he will ultimately emerge the winner.
“I believe I’m going to win,” he said to the rousing applause of supporters crowding around him. “I believe I won on Election Night.”
After apparently leading the race by 725 votes, Coleman was declared the loser to Franken by the razor-thin recount margin of 225 votes out of nearly 3 million ballots cast.
Coleman’s legal team has objected that 654 absentee ballots from precincts generally favoring the incumbent Republican should have been counted. The campaign is also concerned that as many as 150 ballots may have been counted twice.
By state law, authorities cannot certify Franken’s reported victory until seven days have passed to provide time for legal challenges to be filed. The election cannot be certified until all legal options have been exhausted.
"We are filing this contest to make absolutely sure every valid vote was counted and no one's was counted more than anyone else's," Coleman said.
He added that it is important that the eventual winner of the race has the full confidence of voters.
“I just want to make sure the ballots cast in this election were counted fairly, counted once, and with a uniform standard,” Coleman said.
Coleman’s election lawsuit will be heard by a three-judge panel to be selected by Chief Justice Eric Magnuson of the state Supreme Court, who was appointed to that office by GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
Assuming a Democrat is eventually seated to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the Senate, a Franken win would leave Senate Democrats and the Obama administration just a single vote shy of being able to cut off debate on Senate legislation anytime they wish.
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