As the new Congress began its work in January, the people of Minnesota were lacking representation. The election for US Senator between former comedian Al Franken and sitting Senator Norm Coleman was too close to call. There were recounts and lawsuits. Now, 154 days after the election, Franken is up by 302 votes but has still not been officially seated.
The NYS 20th Congressional district is looking to be a similar issue. The seat was left vacant when Governor David Paterson appointed then-Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand to the vacant US Senate seat that had belonged to now Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The election between political newcomer Democrat Scott Murphy and long-time state Assemblyman Republican Jim Tedisco was intense and heavily funded by national congressional campaign monies. A congressional seat that would normally not even be looked at by other New Yorkers was the center of national news as it played out as a test of the Obama coattails.
The votes are counted. After the special election on March 31st, the tally seesawed with about one hundred votes being the largest difference. One day Murphy would be in the lead, one day Tedisco. Then, the absentee ballots started to be counted. All are counted now and Murphy is ahead of Tedisco by 273 votes.
Unfortunately, over 1300 votes have been set aside from objections from one side or the other so the election is heading to the courts. One such ballot is that of now US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. GOP have said her absentee ballot should be considered null and void due to the fact she was in the district on the day of the election and should have voted at her polling location. Today, attorneys from both sides will argue over these 1300 approximate ballots.
The bigger question is does a close election, won by just 273 votes, show that maybe the Democratic administration does not have the “mandate” from the voters that it claims the November election was?