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Americas

Democrat wins disputed Minnesota Senate seat

Video by Catherine NICHOLSON

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-07-01

A bitterly contested race in Minnesota for a US Senate seat finally ended on Tuesday when the state's supreme court ruled that Democrat Al Franken had won. His Republican opponent Norm Coleman has conceded the race to the popular comic.

AFP - Minnesota's Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that comic Al Franken is the winner in a bitter US Senate race, a step set to hand Democrats sweeping powers to pass US President Barack Obama's agenda.
  
Franken's Republican rival, incumbent Senator Norm Coleman, quickly conceded, and the state's Republican governor, Tim Pawlenty, reportedly said he would shortly sign the formal document certifying Franken's victory.
  
The developments were expected to have far-reaching implications for Obama's push to approve legislation to fight climate change, reform US health care, and to win Judge Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation to the US Supreme Court.
  
Democrats and their two reliable independent allies would have the 60 Senate votes needed to break through any Republican efforts to use a parliamentary delay tactic called a filibuster.
  
"I look forward to working with Senator-elect Franken to build a new foundation for growth and prosperity by lowering health care costs and investing in the kind of clean energy jobs and industries that will help America lead in the 21st century," Obama said in a statement.
  
At a press conference, Coleman conceded defeat and congratulated his rival, saying: "The supreme court of Minnesota has spoken. I respect its decision and I will abide by its result."
  
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement he hoped to seat Franken "as soon as possible" and urged Pawlenty to sign the formal document certifying that the Democrat won.
  
A spokesman for Reid said Franken would not be seated before next week -- the Senate is in recess for the July 4 US independence day holiday.
  
Obama's Democratic allies already enjoy a robust majority in the US House of Representatives, so a filibuster-proof Senate majority would deal a sharp blow to Republican efforts to block or force changes to major legislation.
  
Republicans looking to derail or modify Obama-backed legislation would likely target a handful of swing-vote Democrats who have indicated discomfort with some of the president's plans.
  
Franken, who rose to fame on the legendary Saturday Night Live comedy program, had been locked in a months-long legal battle over the validity of the November 4 election after a series of recounts handed him a victory of just 312 votes.
  
Coleman had challenged the fairness of the election and the accuracy of the recount.
  
In a unanimous opinion, the court ruled that "Al Franken received the highest number of votes legally cast and is entitled under Minnesota statute... to receive the certificate of election as United States Senator from the state of Minnesota."
  

Date created : 2009-06-30

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