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Another reason Norm might go: He needs to make money

PIM‘s Sarah Janecek keeps hearing that Team Coleman is still of a full-speed-ahead mindset on its legal fight, but the public signs continue to suggest that’s seriously in doubt. There was Coleman rep Tom Erickson‘s thoroughly noncommital comment earlier this week, and as the Hotline blog is reporting, Norm Coleman‘s former Senate colleagues seem to have received new information that’s changing their refrain.

Here’s Texas Sen. and National Republican Senatorial Committee chair John Cornyn back in April:

"This is about making sure every legal vote is counted, this isn’t just about Norm Coleman. This is about protecting the rights of voters. It’s to my mind a very noble endeavor and one in which, frankly, I admire his perseverence. I support getting it right, and if that includes a federal lawsuit, then so be it. I do think there are important legal issues that don’t just affect Minnesota, or affect this race. They affect elections all around the country — a uniform standard to make sure which votes are counted, and which are not."

And here’s Cornyn earlier this week, per Hotline:

"I think it’s entirely up to him. Frankly, I’ve been amazed that Sen. Coleman’s been willing to persevere as long as he has, and I’m proud of him for doing that. I think we will support him until he decides to hang it up one way or another."

It sounds like Norm is wanting out. The conventional wisdom is that it’s a matter of salvaging a political future for himself. Really? He’s already trashed his most immediate prospect (i.e., a run for governor in 2010), and it’s not clear that what he does from here on out will have much impact on his longer-range future. The people who are inclined to hate Coleman for the interminable legal battle already do; seen from a few years down the road, another month or two of expedited treatment in federal court probably wouldn’t hurt him much further.

But there may be another, more immediate reason Coleman is getting impatient: He needs to get on to some sinecure in the ever-lucrative world of influence-peddling that awaits practically every ex-senator who’s so inclined. His current gig, with the Repubican Jewish Coalition, is the barest start.

Currently we know of at least two signs of pressure on Coleman’s personal finances:

  • As first reported at Politico and later elaborated by the Star Tribune, Coleman has refinanced his St. Paul house many times, and the last time–in March 2007–he took out about $400,000, which raised his 30-year mortgage to $775,000. So at minimum, he belongs to that unenviable class of homeowners who are way underwater on a very expensive mortgage.
  • Coleman has also had to retain legal counsel–expensive legal counsel–in conjunction with a pair of lawsuits (in Texas and Delaware) that allege Coleman friend and patron Nasser Kazeminy funneled $75,000 to Coleman through a company owned by Kazeminy. Coleman is not a defendant in either of those suits, but the claims made about him in them, if proved, would constitute a violation of Senate ethics rules on gift disclosures. Coleman has asked the Federal Election Commission for permission to use his campaign war chest to pay those bills, but there’s no ruling as yet.

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