This Is Not Florida:
How Al Franken Won the Minnesota Senate Recount,by Jay Weiner
(Click for Amazon book review)
BOOK REVIEW by Massscorecard.org:
Al Franken got elected to the Senate in 2009. The election was held in November 2008, like normal, but the election was not decided until July 2009. After a long court battle, Al Franken, the former Saturday Night Live comic, was finally declared the winner against incumbent Republican Senator Norm Coleman, and was seated in the Senate. For seven months, Minnesota was down one Senate representative. This court battle was strongly reminiscent of the Bush-Gore court battle in 2000, except for three things:
This book is named after the Bush-Gore recount battle, which focused on the presidential ballots in Florida. One judge in the Coleman-Franken recount said (p. xx), "This is not Florida; we've got a case in Minnesota." Several of the players on both sides of the Coleman-Franken court battle were imported from the Bush-Gore case, so comparing the Minnesota recount to Florida was of obvious relevance.
- Few people outside of Minnesota paid attention to this court battle;
- The intense partisan animosity of Bush v. Gore was absent;
- And, perhaps because of item 1 or item 2 above, or both, the Coleman-Franken court battle took eight months instead of the one month required for Bush v. Gore, and hence included seven months where the Senate seat remained empty.
The author's conclusion about why Franken won the court battle comes down to this: "Coleman's campaign didn't have that depth of data and the hunting-and-gathering DNA in its organizational blood." (p. 62). In other words, Franken had several advantages over Coleman which proved decisive:
Why would that be so? Why would an incumbent Senator NOT work hard in a post-election recount battle? The author has an answer to that too. It became obvious to Coleman, a few weeks after the election, that he would lose the court battle, because Franken would win despite any court rulings about how the ballots were recounted. So Coleman's post-election strategy was to delay, while Franken's post-election strategy was to win. Coleman benefited from delaying because the Senate was down one Democratic vote as long as Franken was not seated. In other words, Coleman extended the court battle as long as possible to perform his final duty for the Republican Party.
- Franken had a detailed supporter list to whom they could go, to seek evidence and testimony.
- Franken's staff were willing and able (including financially) to go out to seek evidence and testimony.
- In summary, Franken worked harder and more effectively at the recount battle, and earned the election as a result.
This book is great for political insiders. For normal voters, it's way too much detail: a day-by-day, blow-by-blow description of a eight-month court battle. In fact, it's way WAY too much detail, for anyone except the junkiest of political junkies. Reading our excerpts should be plenty for just about anyone.
-- Jesse Gordon, editor-in-chief, Massscorecard.org, Dec. 2011
| Massscorecard.org excerpts: (click on issues for details)
Al Franken: Apologized for comic routines that offended women.
Al Franken: Admitted drug use during days as TV comedian.
Al Franken: Wrote two movies about drug addiction and its horrors.
Mike Ciresi: 2007: acknowledged past marijuana dabbling.
Norm Coleman: Opposed to legalizing marijuana despite past usage.
Al Franken: 2005: Coleman should've held hearings on post-war corruption.
Al Franken: 2005: Fined $25,000 for failing to insure workers.
Principles & Values|
Al Franken: Spent $20M on campaign; more for Great Minnesota Recount.
Al Franken: Recount: What do we want? Patience! When do we want it? Now!
Al Franken: OpEd: Franken should have beaten Coleman easily in blue MN.
Al Franken: Decided to take on Coleman when he berated Paul Wellstone.
Al Franken: 2005: Formed progressive Midwest Values PAC.
Al Franken: Response to attack ad "Angry Al":why isn't Coleman outraged?
Al Gore: 2000: Urged to recount all FL; focused on just 4 counties.
Christine Gregoire: 2004 recount battle determined by absentee ballots.
Mary Landrieu: 1996-97: ten-month investigation over voting irregularities.
Norm Coleman: If I were 725 votes down, I'd say 'We need to heal'.
Norm Coleman: I'm a 99% improvement over Paul Wellstone.
Norm Coleman: 2002: Hand-picked by Vice President Dick Cheney.
Norm Coleman: Attack ad: evaded questions about $75K donation through wife.
Paul Wellstone: Died 12 days before likely re-election.
Al Franken: 21st-century communication methods helped win recount.
Norm Coleman: Paper pads to fight Franken's 21st-century communications.
War & Peace|
Al Franken: Consistently opposed to Iraq War.
The above quotations are from This Is Not Florida:
How Al Franken Won the Minnesota Senate Recount,by Jay Weiner.
Other 2008 Senate debates:
- Interviews with Senate candidates (Massscorecard SenateMatch series)
- Senior Citizens League Guide (Senate questionnaire on retirement topics)
- Scientists and Engineers for America Guide (Senate questionnaire on science & technology topics)
- Business Industry Political Action Committee (Senate questionnaire on business topics)
- Political Courage Test (Senate questionnaire on general topics)
- Citizens for Global Solutions (Senate questionnaire on international topics)
- This Is Not Florida How Al Franken Won the Minnesota Senate Recount,by Jay Weiner
- The Truth (With Jokes), by Al Franken (2006)
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