|Photo by by Dan Corrigan for City Pages|
While Democrats are quite vocal about what their party is missing with Al Franken not in the Minnesota Senate seat just yet, Republicans have been silent about any benefits they get from the prolonged recount trial and Norm Coleman's election contest.
Now the Republicans are admitting some benefits. The empty Minnesota seat isn't so bad for the GOP.
Democrats currently have 58 votes in the Senate and the Republicans have 41. The lack of another Democrat in the Senate makes it just one vote tougher to get the stimulus package passed, but helps Republicans keep some power, at least temporarily.
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There is no concerted effort to keep the recount going in order to deny Franken a seat, according to GOP aides, but it does have side benefits.
"If Franken was going to vote on the stimulus package, they wouldn't necessarily need one of the Republicans. So yeah, it matters," said Ron Bonjean, a former top aide to several Senate Republicans who now operates his own public-relations firm. Democrats brokered a deal with three centrist Republican senators in order to end debate on the stimulus package.
"It's better for us to have one less member," said a top GOP leadership aide, though the aide acknowledged of Franken: "He's got a very good shot at winning."
"The Republicans have clearly, largely speaking, as a body, come to the conclusion that continuing to impede the agenda is their way to be meaningful in some way," said Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.), the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "If that's what they're going to do, then a lot of legislation will be affected by how many votes we have."
A ruling by the three-judge panel hearing Coleman's contest could help speed up the already three-week-long trial. Many days have been spent going through one ballot at a time and interviewing election officials about why the ballot was rejected. It's a total snoozer, trust us.