Speaking for the first time since the Minnesota vote recount began, incumbent GOP Sen. Norm Coleman says he’s “fairly confident” he will overtake challenger Al Franken and win re-election.
Coleman led throughout the contest until late last week, when Democrat Franken took a 251-vote lead based on decisions made by the State Canvassing Board.
Franken now leads Coleman with an increasingly small number of ballots yet to consider. Franken is up 47 votes, according to a preliminary report by the secretary of state's office. An earlier report by the office had placed the margin at 48 votes but the Canvassing Board made one correction costing Franken a vote.
“I feel fairly confident. In the end, the good Lord’s going to decide,” Coleman told TwinCities.com local Channel 9, a Fox affiliate. “The numbers look good to us. Certainly there’s uncertainty. I’m not worried about it. I’ve done everything I can do.”
Some 1,600 absentee ballots that may have been improperly rejected still must be counted. And the Coleman camp is concerned some duplicate ballots may have been counted twice. The state Supreme Court met to decide the fate of those votes Tuesday.
Marc Elias, counsel to Franken’s campaign, predicts Franken will lead by between 35 and 50 votes when the Canvassing Board finishes its review. The Coleman camp has rejected Franken’s current lead as “artificial.”
Asked by Newsmax to elaborate, Coleman campaign manager Cullen Sheehan released a statement Tuesday afternoon that the current projections involve “votes that do not exist” – that is, votes that have been counted twice.
“Additionally, we are still reconciling our numbers with the spreadsheet and we have already identified some discrepancies,” Sheehan says. “We have no doubt that when these issues are properly resolved, Sen. Coleman will be re-elected to the Senate.”
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie told reporters there is no way the board will certify a winner this year. Counties have until Dec. 31 to forward uncounted absentee ballots to the board for possible inclusion. Ritchie's office and the campaigns could agree to extend that deadline a few days.
"We are not in any way guided by any Washington consideration, timeline," said Ritchie, a Democrat. "These folks have people's lives in their hands."
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