Monday, January 5, 2009

How tough does Pawlenty want to be?

He could insert himself into Franken v. Coleman in a big way:

Franken's biggest obstacle is that despite the certification of results, he still has no formal election certificate, and isn't likely to have one while Coleman contests the result. Smith and other academic experts say there is no modern precedent for seating a U.S. senator without an election certificate.

Under Minnesota law, a certificate must be signed by the governor and the secretary of state, and there's a seven-day waiting period.

So let's see -- to get seated, Franken needs a certificate -- a certificate that would have to be signed by Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Not only could Pawlenty refuse his signature, he could also resort to an even more explosive option.

Republicans have discussed the possibility of having Pawlenty make a temporary appointment. The U.S. Constitution's 17th Amendment appears to give him that power. But the majority Democrats say they would block it.

In the end, Pawlenty's performance on this story doesn't hinge on whether Franken or Coleman gets seated -- it's how willing he is to sacrifice political capital to please national elements of the party, which would probably do anything short of nothing to keep Franken from joining the Senate.

Ready for your close-up, Tim?