Thursday, November 13, 2008

Schumer: "Minnesota is not Florida."

By Michael J.W. Stickings

No, but, with a recount looming in the exceptionally tight Coleman-Franken Senate race, the Republicans are certainly fighting like it's Florida all over again. Here's The Hill:

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Thursday accused Republicans of trying to halt the Minnesota Senate recount through intimidation and vowed the process "won’t be another Florida."

Schumer, the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), said allies of Sen. Norm Coleman, the GOP incumbent, are working to undermine the recount even though it is required under Minnesota law and neither candidate can "short-circuit" it.

Schumer pointed to statements made by former Bush administration official Hans von Spakovsky and "attack documents" circulated by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) — both of them aimed at Minnesota election officials.

"The Coleman campaign is juicing up the right wing to put pressure on the process," Schumer said. "The right wing has worked itself into a lather in a clear attempt to intimidate election officials from doing their job... I have news for those seeking to intimidate the process: Minnesota is not Florida."

Three things:

First, I think it's hilarious there's a guy named Hans von Spakovsky in the middle of this. For those of you who don't know who he is -- and I can hardly blame you for that -- check out his Wikipedia profile, as well as this profile at Slate.

Suffice it to say that he's a rather controversial figure, like so many Bush appointees, first in Bush's Justice Department, where he was involved with voting rights, then as a recess appointment to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). As Dahlia Lithwick put it in that Slate profile, "this man was one of the generals in a years-long campaign to use what we now know to be bogus claims of runaway 'vote fraud' in America to suppress minority votes. Von Spakovsky was one of the people who helped melt down and then reshape the Justice Department into an instrument aimed at diminishing voter participation for partisan ends." In other words, a distinguished Republican operative.

Second, Coleman has been trying to avoid a recount from the start. He prematurely declared victory the day after Election Day, a transparently pre-emptive move in the spirit of Bush 2000, then pressed Franken not to push for a recount, arguing that it would be too expensive (actually, it will cost only about $86,000). Franken rightly declined the offer, saying that "a recount could change the outcome significantly" and that the "goal is to ensure that every vote is properly counted."

Third, Republican intimidation will no doubt continue. It is essential that Democrats both nationally and at the state level remain vigilant. Franken may end up losing, but the recount must proceed fairly -- and all the votes must be counted.

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