Generally speaking, I don’t blame Norm Coleman for doing everything he can to win his razor-close Senate race against Al Franken. If there are legal avenues open during a recount, candidates have the right to use them.
But that’s getting harder and harder to defend. Minnesota’s election procedures may not be perfect (whose are?), but there’s never been any serious evidence of widespread fraud or favoritism, and Franken’s lead has increased at every step. Even Scott Johnson, a conservative Minnesota attorney, writing in National Review today, agrees. Coleman’s recount strategy may have been poor, he says, but Franken “didn’t steal the election.”
Coleman has nothing left now except an equal protection claim so poorly conceived that it plainly has no chance at either the state or federal level. In a system where votes are counted and tallied locally, there will inevitably be small differences in procedure, but Coleman has no plausible evidence that a class of voters was mistreated or that election officials were systematically biased against him. Even conservatives are finally starting to admit that, as much as they dislike Franken, Coleman’s effort has turned into little more than a shabby campaign of retribution and spite. It’s past time to let it go, guys.