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GOP strategy: Keep the Senate seat empty

Are Republicans in the U.S. Congress forking over big bucks to help pay for Norm Coleman’s recount challenge against Al Franken in an effort to keep his Senate seat empty for as long as possible — and, in the process, stall or derailthe Obama administration’s agenda?

A story on The Nation‘s website this week quotes a GOP senator from Texas as saying that that strategy is exactly what’s happening, and a video being distributed by Coleman’s campaign bolsters the idea.

Texas Sen. John Cornyntold the magazine that he’s glad that Coleman understands that he "owes it" to his former Senate colleagues to kep the seat vacant. "He realizes how important retaining that seat is to us," said Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is spearheading the fundraising effort.

Congressional Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, are paying $10,000 apiece (the maximum allowed under election laws) "to maintain their power to obstruct Congess," The Nation reported. Other Republicanswho have ponied up $10,000: House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio,Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho, Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. Sen. James Imhofe of Oklahoma and Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa threw in $5,000 each.

The contributions to Coleman’s campaign are helping pay for the ongoing recount battle.

There are currently 56 Democrats in the Senate, plus two independents– Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and BernieSanders of Vermont — who caucus with the party, and only 41 Republicans."That 41 figure is perilously close to the number that Republicans need to threaten filibusters," The Nation‘s John Nichols writes. "It takes 60 seats to invoke cloture and force action on legislation and appointments in the tradition-bound Senate."

"Now we know why Norm Coleman keeps fanning his lawsuit in the face of certain failure: to help Washington Republicans block the change that Minnesotans voted for so overwhelmingly," Minnesota DFL Chairman Brian Melendez said in a statement today.

"None of these Republicans represent or care about Minnesota; they’re just protecting their own turf and their own special interests at Minnesota’s expense. Yet Norm Coleman feels that he ‘owes’ them, not Minnesotans. … Norm Coleman apparently feels that because he failed, President Obama should fail, too. So much for bringing people together to get things done."

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