Coleman Attorney's Shocking Admission: We Expect To Lose

Friday, 20 Mar 2009 11:17 AM

By David A. Patten

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GOP Sen. Norm Coleman's top attorney now says his client probably will lose the Minnesota recount and will slip even farther behind Democratic rival Al Franken's vote total.

That surprising admission came from Coleman attorney Joe Friedberg during an interview on KFAN radio in the Twin Cities area. Friedberg, who made the closing arguments on Coleman's behalf to the three-judge panel overseeing the case, told listeners on the March 18 broadcast that it is "probably correct that Franken will still be ahead and probably by a little bit more" when the case ends.

He added: "But our whole argument was that it was a constitutional argument, and it's an argument suitable for the Minnesota Supreme Court, not for the trial court. So we will see whether we were right or not."

Coleman’s main objection to the election is that different precincts used different standards for deciding which votes — particularly absentee ballots — were counted or rejected.

It also has maintained that rulings by the three-judge panel meant voters' ballots were evaluated using different standards. This would violate the constitutional provision of equal protection under the law, a legal argument that relies heavily on the precedent established in 2000 when the U.S. Supreme Court heard Bush v. Gore. That finding ultimately contributed to Bush’s victory.

Franken's team has maintained all along that Coleman failed to uncover systemic flaws in the election, pointing out Coleman appeared to oppose counting any rejected absentee ballots at one point.

This week, the judges hearing the election contest — Minnesota’s equivalent of an election lawsuit — have been deliberating behind closed doors to determine which ballots should be counted. It's unknown how long those deliberations will take.

Franken holds an official lead of 225 votes, but is believed unofficially to be ahead by about 260 votes based on the panel’s prior rulings.

Friedberg told the radio station that Coleman's case has been geared all along at a constitutional level, suited for appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

"So we will see whether we were right on not," Friedberg said. "We’ve been trying this case with the appeal record in mind, and that's where we're going. And it's gonna be a very quick appeal, and then I'll know whether or not it worked."

Coleman's campaign did not immediately respond Friday to a Newsmax request for its reaction to Friedberg's remarks. The race is considered critical to the political balance in the Senate, where Democrats already have 58 of the 60 votes they need to push their agenda through Congress.

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