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December 22, 2008

Coleman camp claims lead, with a caveat

Norm Coleman’s campaign spokesman Cullen Sheehan predicted today that the senator will defeat Democrat Al Franken – but only if the dispute over double-counted ballots and rejected absentee ballots are resolved in its favor.

The Coleman campaign declined to predict whether it will be leading when the state Canvassing Board releases their most up-to-date numbers tomorrow. Those numbers will add thousands of previously withdrawn challenged ballots from both campaigns into the count and give the clearest picture of where the race stands since the recount began.

“If the balance of this process is handled legally and fairly, Norm Coleman will still be in the lead and will be well on his way to being elected to the US Senate,” said Sheehan. But Sheehan cautioned that the secretary of state will present a misleading total tomorrow that “double-counts votes.”

The Coleman campaign filed a lawsuit with the state Supreme Court to prevent the state Canvassing Board from certifying its count until it decides how to handle duplicate ballots. Coleman’s campaign is alleging that as many as 150 ballots were accidentally counted twice during the recount process.

Franken’s campaign predicted it will be leading Coleman between 35 and 50 votes when the Canvassing Board announces its count tomorrow.

There are also approximately 1,600 absentee ballots that were mistakenly rejected that will be counted before the vote is certified. Franken’s campaign has said it expects to gain additional votes from that pile.

The Canvassing Board will not be certifying a winner until December 30, at the earliest.