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Case continues as candidates court donors

ST. PAUL -- The U.S. Senate campaigns are in court while the candidates are in Washington.

As courtroom proceedings begin today in Norm Coleman's case challenging the Senate election results, Coleman and Democrat Al Franken are in the nation's capital, separately, meeting with supporters and donors.

Coleman leaves for Washington today to meet with colleagues, fundraisers and others, spokesman Mark Drake said. Coleman "will also discuss how double-counted votes, missing ballots and a lack of uniform standards regarding absentee ballots have given Al Franken an artificial lead."

Franken is wrapping up a several-day trip to Washington, which included inauguration-related activities, a military hospital visit and a high-dollar fundraiser. Franken returns to Minnesota on Thursday, spokeswoman Jess McIntosh said.

The candidates' attorneys this afternoon will go before the three-judge panel considering Franken's request to dismiss the Coleman election challenge. Franken attorneys argue the judges do not have jurisdiction over the issues raised in Coleman's filing. They also claim Coleman's challenge is too vague.

Franken emerged from a statewide ballot recount with 225 more votes out of nearly 2.9 million cast. Coleman led on election night.

Coleman, a Republican seeking a second Senate term, is challenging the recount results because he said some valid votes were not counted while others were counted twice.

If the three judges decide not to dismiss the case, they will preside over an election trial beginning Monday.