Who’s Tonya Harding Now?
Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.)* is promising to sue for another recount if, as expected, Al Franken is declared the winner of Minnesota’s Senate race this week. Republicans are promising to back Coleman by filibustering any attempt to seat Franken.
When did this Republican love for extended recounts start? Sometime after the 2000 elections, probably. Back then Republicans were universal in their desire for Al Gore to do the right thing and concede. Here’s current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appearing on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer on Dec. 4, 2000:
Al Gore at this rate, is going to become — will be remembered as the Tonya Harding of American presidential history, unwilling to accept the results after we’ve had a count, a recount, and a selected hand recount in overwhelmingly Democratic areas.
McConnell on Larry King Live, Dec. 6, 2000:
I think at this rate Al Gore is going to become the Tonya Harding of presidential politics. You know, he will contest this until he runs out of lawyers, and there are lots of lawyers down in Florida.
Coleman wasn’t vocal about the Florida recount, but he did make a statement on election night in 2000 that suggests his affinity for close elections has waned over time.
“Every day that Al Gore and Joe Lieberman were in Minnesota, they weren’t in Florida,” Coleman told cheering Republicans at the Radisson Riverfront Hotel in downtown St. Paul around 1:30 a.m. “You brought them here. We helped make this work.”
In Coleman’s defense, he was sort of wrong—Ralph Nader’s vanity campaign in Oregon, Minnesota, Washington and Wisconsin made those states less blue than they would have been otherwise, which meant more Gore trips to those states that, as you can say of so many things in 2000, cost him the election.