It’s worth paying very close attention to the Minnesota governor’s race recount. As you’ll recall in the 2008 Senate recount, a significant part of the Republican motivation for dragging out the legal process wasn’t just to try to secure a victory for Norm Coleman but to deny Al Franken the Senate seat for as long as possible — and thus deny Democrats the cherished 60th vote in the Senate.
This time around any delay in Democrat Mark Dayton taking office means Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty gets to hang around with all the powers of the office and — for the first time — a Republican majority statehouse. But Republicans wouldn’t play dirty pool, right? Ahem …
Here’s what a “high-level” GOP operative told the Star-Tribune: “I don’t think there’s any downside to keeping this recount going on as long as possible. If we keep the process going, there are opportunities for us in the upcoming legislative session.” That’s in sharp contrast to the mostly statesman-like public comments coming from elected Republicans in Minnesota, but you’d have to be naive to think delay isn’t on their minds.
The big difference between 2008 and this time around is that the Coleman-Franken race was extraordinarily tight, whereas Dayton now enjoys a lead of nearly 9,000 votes over Republican Tom Emmer that will be very hard to erase through the recount process. In theory that will make it more challenging to justify any extended delay politically. At least in theory.
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.