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GOP, DFL legislators say court's decision is about time

WILLMAR -- Area legislators -- both Republicans and Democrats -- expressed relief Tuesday afternoon that the U.S. Senate race appeared to be over with the Minnesota Supreme Court's unanimous ruling that Al Franken defeated Norm Coleman.

"I think it's time to be over and to move on," said Sen. Joe Gimse, R-Willmar. "It's been too long."

Gimse said most people he's talked to were more than ready to have the decision made, although "some of us aren't going to be happy" with the outcome. "But that's the way it goes, he said. "Tomorrow's another day in politics."

Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, said he wasn't at all surprised by the Supreme Court's decision Tuesday, which was quickly followed by a concession speech by Coleman and an announcement by Gov. Tim Pawlenty that he would sign the election certificate.

"I felt the handwriting was on the wall for months," said Urdahl. "Everything was pointing that way. The various rulings, the recounts. It just seemed like, from an outsider's viewpoint, it looked like that was the way it was going to go, so I wasn't surprised."

The nearly eight-month-long recount battle has taken its toll on Minnesotans' patience.

"I think people were sick of it, to be honest about it. I got pretty tired of it myself," said Sen. Gary Kubly, D-Granite Falls. "A lot of people just want it to be done."

Kubly, who was interviewed before Pawlenty made his announcement, said the Supreme Court's unanimous vote would have made it difficult for Pawlenty not to sign the election certificate, especially when three of the five justices were appointed by Republican governors.

Given the unanimous decision, it would've also been difficult for Coleman to appeal his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, said Kubly.

Tuesday's turn of events means Minnesota will now have two senators in Washington, D.C.

"Thank goodness Minnesota will finally be fully represented," said Rep. Al Juhnke, D-Willmar. "There's a lot of big issues in D.C. and having only one voice has been problematic."

Given the contested race and slim margin of winning votes, Juhnke said Franken doesn't have a mandate to go to Washington "without looking at both sides of the issue."

Juhnke said he hopes Franken will be a "good moderate voice" for Minnesotans.

The Supreme Court's ruling is also a sign that Minnesota's election process "works well" and is "not rift with errors."

That doesn't mean improvements shouldn't be made.

Juhnke said he expects the Legislature to review the election process, including how absentee ballots are handled. He said other options, like early voting, may be considered.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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