ST. PAUL, Minn., Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Minnesota's governor and secretary of state Monday both declined to certify Democratic challenger Al Franken as the winner in the protracted U.S. Senate race.
The Democratic challenger held a 225-vote lead over incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman when a state recount panel finished its work last week, but Minnesota law doesn't allow Franken to be certified while Coleman challenges the result, The Hill reported Monday.
Franken's lawyers said they sent a letter stating their belief that Canvassing Board's decision should lead to Franken's certification. They cited federal law that said it was the duty of the state's governor to certify the election and that the certification be countersigned by the secretary of state. The attorneys also cited the constitutional provision that says the U.S. Senate "shall be composed of two Senators from each state."
However, Secretary of State Mark Richie, a Democrat, said in a statement neither he nor Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, could sign a certificate of election "until all election contests (lawsuits) have reached a final determination," the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.
Pawlenty echoed Richie's sentiments over not signing any certification until Coleman's court contest is decided.
"I have a duty to follow state law and our statutes are clear on this issue. I am prohibited from issuing a certificate of election until the election contest in the courts has been resolved," Pawlenty said in a statement.
Franken attorney Marc Ellis said the campaign Monday filed a counter claim to Coleman's lawsuit.