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December 20, 2008

Franken expects to defeat Coleman by 35-50 votes

Al Franken’s campaign is as close to declaring victory as it has throughout the weeks-long recount in the Minnesota Senate race.

Franken’s campaign attorney Marc Elias said he expects Franken to be leading Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) by “between 35 and 50 votes” when the Canvassing Board finishes counting all the disputed ballots on Tuesday.

“On Tuesday, I will stand before you with that work completed. Al Franken will have a lead of between 35 and 50 votes. And, at some point not too long after that, Al Franken will stand before you as the senator-elect from Minnesota,” Elias said at a press conference Saturday.

The state’s Canvassing Board is expected to finish counting all the disputed ballots in the Senate race on Tuesday, adding the thousands of challenges that were withdrawn by both campaigns to the tally. Currently Franken leads by 251 votes, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s unofficial count.

Election officials still have to sort and count approximately 1,600 absentee ballots that were mistakenly rejected before the vote is certified. Franken’s campaign expects to gain additional votes from that pile; indeed, the Coleman campaign filed a lawsuit attempting to prevent those votes from being included.

And the Coleman campaign has also 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.

UPDATE:  Coleman campaign spokesman Mark Drake issued the following response: "This is just more bluster and hot air from a campaign that has been trailing for two years. While we can understand their need to latch onto their temporary lead, the reality is there's a long way to go in this process. We have no doubt that once this recount is fully completed, Senator Coleman will be in the lead and will be reelected to the Senate."