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Arne Carlson blasts GOP, Pawlenty for dragging out Coleman-Franken fight

Kevin Featherly//July 22, 2009//

Arne Carlson blasts GOP, Pawlenty for dragging out Coleman-Franken fight

Kevin Featherly//July 22, 2009//

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Unemployment line - Where Norm Coleman is head
Unemployment line - Where Norm Coleman is head

The end of the interminable U.S. Senate race between Democrat Al Franken and outgoing GOP incumbent Norm Coleman catches at least one prominent Republican in a foul mood – not about the race’s long-delayed outcome, but about the fact that his party dragged its feet for so long.

Former Gov. Arne Carlson expressed anger that Coleman, the national Republican Party and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty let the post-election legal contest drag on for nearly eight months. The ex-governor spoke just moments before Coleman conceded the race to Franken Tuesday afternoon, following Coleman’s 5-0 loss before the Minnesota State Supreme Court that declared Franken’s victory should be certified.

You can use the legal system in a proper way and you can use the legal system for mischief,” Carlson said. “What, frankly, the Republican Party nationally did on this case was use the legal system for mischief. And as a Republican, I find that very offensive.”

Though Coleman and his legal team proclaimed a desire to have “every vote count” -a justification that Coleman repeated in his afternoon press conference Tuesday – Carlson was having none of it.

“They knew what they were doing, which was to delay the seating of a Democrat because they did not want the president to have that 60th vote,” Carlson said. “They just wanted to keep that seat open as long as they possibly could, with every legal gimmick that they could possibly use.”

Carlson criticized Pawlenty for not signing the election certificate months ago and charged that he didn’t do so for purely political reasons.

“The fundamental problem of Gov. Pawlenty is that he has consistently used the governorship as a steppingstone to the White House. And in so doing, I would argue, has compromised his service to the people of Minnesota.”

Carlson said Pawlenty should have certified the election in early January, when the state canvassing board ruled that Franken had won narrowly the election. “If Coleman had wanted to appeal that in court, that’s his right, he could go ahead and do it,” Carlson said. “But in the meantime Minnesota would have been represented.”

As a result, the former governor groused, Minnesota missed out on “at least 50 percent of the discussions” related to President Obama’s stimulus package. “We were asking [U.S. Sen.] Amy Klobuchar to pull both oars. How much nicer would it have been if we had been at full strength. We might have done a lot better.”

Carlson then added: “I think it was mishandled from Day One.”

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