Issues creep back into Senate race dialogue

Here’s something we haven’t heard the two “finalists” for the U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota talking about in months: Issues. Norm Coleman and Al Franken have come out of — more or less — hiding today. They’re holding individual sessions with reporters.

Most of the talk, naturally, is about their continuing recount/court challenge to last November’s vote, but MPR’s Tom Crann pushed some issues during his interviews. Coleman said he does not support the Obama economic stimulus package.

“I’m trying to be ready; that’s one of the challenges,” Coleman said. “I’ve talked to Sen. Susan Collins. We need to move this economy forward, but on the other hand we can’t be spending tens or hundreds of billions of dollars on things which have no impact on economic reform.”

Coleman returned to the spotlight by attending several of the hearings in his lawsuit filed after the official recount showed him losing to Al Franken by a few hundred votes.

“I don’t know if there is a next step,” Coleman told Crann () when asked what the next step is if a count of additional absentee ballots shows him losing to Franken. Coleman said he’s learned a lot about elections in Minnesota by sitting in the court and listening to election experts (one of whom was on MPR’s Midday today).

Franken says he’d be a vote for Obama’s stimulus package if he were in the Senate.

“I don’t think there’s too much in the bill,” he said. ” We need this and I believe most Americans want this but most Americans are skeptical about whether this is going to do the job and they deserve to know that this money is going to be spent wisely.” ()

“One of the things I’ve done to be ready is talk to Collin Peterson’s staff about layoffs at the Polaris plant up in Roseau. There is a flood mitigation project there — shovel ready — in the stimulus package… and I think it would be good for us to have two votes. Same token: This buy-America provision that’s in the package, that’s a very good thing for the Iron Range … that the stimulus projects have American steel in them, that’s a huge boon for the Iron Range,” he said. ()

Franken acknowledged that waste and abuse of stimulus money is a possibility. He said he favored creation of a Truman Commission to find instances of fraud and abuse. As a senator, Harry Truman uncovered millions of dollars in waste in the prosecution of World War II.

  • Candi

    The one good thing to come out of all this is that we now know how many problems there are with the election process in Minnesota. But here we still sit with one senator down in Washington and for who knows how long.