Some key developments took place over the weekend in the Minnesota gubernatorial recount, with Republican nominee Tom Emmer’s withdrawing almost all of its ballot-challenges that were deemed to be frivolous by the local officials at the counting table. But on the other hand, even though he is mathematically guaranteed to lose the recount, he also says he’s not going away.
As the Star Tribune reports, the Emmer campaign had challenged 2,604 ballots in heavily Democratic Hennepin County (Minneapolis), with almost all the challenges being declared frivolous. At Friday’s State Canvassing Board Meeting, Emmer lead attorney Eric Magnuson (a former state Chief Justice who previously sat on the board in the 2008 Senate recount between Al Franken and Norm Coleman) promised to bring the number down.
Then on Saturday, out of 2,604 challenges, the Emmer campaign reviewed the ballots and brought the number down to…24. Magnuson said that the large number of withdrawals “doesn’t mean I agreed they were frivolous … but I was not going to take them before the Canvassing Board.”
Going into the recount, Democratic nominee Mark Dayton led by 8,770 votes, or 0.42%. While this is within the 0.5% needed to trigger a statewide recount, many observers had doubted that Emmer could pull ahead, as Dayton’s lead is probably too wide to be reversed. However, a possible drawn-out legal contest could potentially result in Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty staying in office in the interim, with the opportunity to work with a newly elected Republican legislature.
Indeed, as the Star Tribune also reports, Emmer is saying it isn’t over:
On Saturday, Emmer told the Republican central committee members that “this is by no means the end of the election cycle — it’s the beginning of something new … We’re not going away regardless what happens. We’re stickin’ around.”
On Friday morning, Emmer declared that the recount was “merely a step in the process,” and signaled that he could try to make hay out of a different issue, relating to precincts where there are more votes than people who are listed on the register. (This issue can occur for a number of reasons — conservatives are liable to make accusations of voter fraud, but there are also cases of simple negligence by the odd voter here and there, or cases where absentee voters were not properly filled into the register by the local precinct workers.)