Two years ago when the votes were counted in the US Senate race in Minnesota, Republican Norm Coleman was ahead of Democratic Al Franken, which automatically triggered a recount. The Republicans screamed about that recount from day one, saying the worse they could say about Franken and Democrats in general, even though a) the recount was automatic and b) the applicable wisdom strongly suggested that an errors would favor Republicans, and a recount would likely swing the numbers in favor of a Democratic candidate by several hundred votes. That recount happened, again with the Republicans kicking and screaming and whinging and griping the entire time about how Al Franken and the Democrats were ruining democracy.
At the end, Franken won what the junior Senator from Minnesota now refers to as “The most efficient senatorial race ever carried out in the State of Minnesota. No votes were wasted.”
Now, the Democratic candidate for Governor in this year’s election has received about nine thousand votes more than the Republican candidate. Twenty times the difference in from the Franken-Coleman recount, but still, enough to trigger a recount.
Based on what the Republicans said two years ago, their candidate, Emmer, should simply step aside now, insist that no recount is necessary, and allow Mark Dayton the courtesy of moving forward with a transition.
But no. Not only is Emmer not going to withdraw, but the republicans are claiming that there is now way that Dayton could have gotten so many votes without something illegal happeing, with a leader in the state legislature claiming that “something does not smell right.”
Indeed. Something does not smell right.
What is going to happen, of course, is that the recount is going to move forward, and the number of votes by which Dayton beats Emmer is going to increase. Or at least, that is what the applicable wisdom would predict. In any event, the prospect of 9,000 or so votes going away (or 4,500 or so votes switching) is pretty slim. Mark Dayton will be the next governor of Minnesota. It will probably take a few months, though I have not looked at the process in any detail yet.
And, you can fully expect the Republicants to spend the entire time whinging and accusing and belly aching and sputtering and tossing whatever wrenches they have into the Democratic Process.
One big difference between the last recount and this one is this: Although the stakes are huge for us here in Minnesota … we’ve temporarily lost our DFL majority in the state house and a Republican governor in combination with a GOP majority there would be truly devastating (especially this governor), the national stakes at the time of the Franken-Colemen recount were huge. Huge enough for every recount-experienced operative and lawyer in the entire country to converge here and a zillion dollars to be raised to support the process on both sides. There will be a huge effort here, but it can’t possibly be as large an operation. Yet, every vote will need to be recounted.
So … let’s get to work. Unless, of course, Tom Emmer wants to do the right thing. Which is highly unlikely.