Recount Begins in Minnesota

The recount in the undecided contest for Minnesota governor — the nation's only gubernatorial race still without an official winner — begins today (November 29). Republican Tom Emmer must close an 8,770-vote deficit to defeat Democrat Mark Dayton if the GOP hopes to maintain control of the executive branch, currently headed by Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty.

Minnesota, of course, is no stranger to recounts. It took 47 days for the 2008 U.S. Senate race between Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken to be decided in Franken's favor, and months of legal challenges followed the tally as Coleman's team sought to deny Democrats a 60-vote supermajority in the Senate.

This time, state election officials say they are better prepared and don't expect the vote tallying to last as long as it did two years ago.

"Not only do they have the experience of the protracted Al Franken-Norm Coleman squeaker under their belts, they now have the law on their side," The Associated Press reports . "In the wake of the 2008 race, which took six months for the courts to settle, the state changed some election rules to avert the myriad challenges that dragged out the process."

The size of the gap between Dayton and Emmer also should make a difference. Dayton holds a commanding lead and Emmer has "no clear source for picking up additional votes," according to the AP. In 2008, the difference between Franken and Coleman was only 215 votes going into the recount, and Franken eventually won by 312.

For Republicans, at least, this year's gubernatorial recount may not be about winning. It could be about dragging out the process for as long as possible — and allowing the Republican Pawlenty to remain in office while his replacement is determined. Since the GOP won both houses of the Minnesota legislature in November, the status quo in the governor's office is perfectly acceptable to many Republicans. 


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