This Is Not Florida: How Al Franken Won the Minnesota Senate Recount

This Is Not Florida: How Al Franken Won the Minnesota Senate Recount

by Jay Weiner

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The behind-the-scenes story of the historic Franken-Coleman Minnesota Senate recount.See more details below


The behind-the-scenes story of the historic Franken-Coleman Minnesota Senate recount.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Weiner provides a lively play-by-play of a recount that fascinated the state, if not the nation." —The New Yorker

"Those who were pulling for Al Franken will enjoy this detailed account of how the 2008 Senate race in Minnesota and its subsequent recount contributed to the Democrats' total of 60 senators—the magic number needed to beat back a Republican filibuster. As nasty, ugly and unappealing as the battle between Franken and Norm Coleman was, watching the two sides explore every opportunity to pick up a vote or three in the post-election recount was just fascinating. No, it wasn't Florida, as the title suggests. The presidency was not at stake. And in that contest, the Democrats lost. But they won in Minnesota in the Great Recount of 2009.  And if nothing else, the moral of the story is that every vote—every vote—counts." —Ken Rudin

"Weiner’s lively description of the ins and outs of the recount battle will please election junkies, political scientists and political consultants." —Kirkus Reviews

Library Journal
Weiner ( is a veteran sports journalist who was serendipitously thrust into covering the 2008 Al Franken vs. Norm Coleman election recount. He adapted brilliantly, delving fearlessly into the complex legal machinations of the recount, objectively observing the candidates as they navigated through the minutiae of Minnesota election law. Weiner's book is a significant illustration of the infrastructure of democracy: he deftly translates arcane recount procedures and legal jargon into straightforward prose. However, the main characters in Weiner's drama aren't Franken and Coleman, who are covered only peripherally, but lawyers such as Marc Elias and Fritz Knaak, whom Weiner often sketches in impressionistic tones that lend the book some welcome humanity amid the legal thicket of absentee ballot statutes and judicial opinions. VERDICT This is an exhaustive examination and an electoral law primer written at a level accessible to all readers seriously engaged in the legal and political story. Political science and electoral law specialists will want to read it. Casual readers will probably want to wait for a more accessible, character-focused narrative on this bit of recent history.—Dennis J. Seese, Jefferson-Madison Reg. Lib., Charlottesville, VA
Kirkus Reviews

Former Minneapolis Star Tribune sportswriter Weiner (StadiumGames: Fifty Years of Big League Greed and Bush League Boondoggles, 2000) enthusiastically chronicles the "extra-innings" contest between Republican incumbent Norman Coleman and challenger Al Franken over Minnesota's contested senate seat.

Because the margin was so small—"Coleman led by a razor-thin 215 votes out of nearly three million cast"—Minnesota election law mandated a recount.The author reprises his comprehensive, on-the-spot coverage of the eight-month battle (originally written for, which frequently took the form of heated arguments between lawyers. When Coleman's attorney, Roger Magnuson, contended that the Minnesota Supreme Court should "block the Canvassing Board's decision" to count newly found absentee ballots—a position similar to the one he had argued successfully in 2000 inBush v. Gore—he attempted to reference the Florida precedent, only to be stopped by Justice Paul H. Anderson, who "barked disdainfully..."[t]his is not Florida." Weiner puts sports metaphors to good use in his descriptions. "Magnuson was not used to getting jabbed in the gut or cuffed on the chin," he writes, when he received "a verbal whack from a Minnesota Supreme Court justice," who ruled against him. Within the partisan climate of politics today, the author is convincing in his assessment that the Minnesota election was a model of fairness. Minnesota reasserted the importance of bipartisan collaboration to ensure that justice was served—e.g., Secretary of State Mark Richie created an exemplary nonpartisan Canvassing Board to determine which votes were admissible. Voting machines proved to be better than 99 percent accurate, and while some absentee ballots were misplaced or cast aside, human error, not corruption, was responsible for the errors.

Though general appeal may be limited, Weiner's lively description of the ins and outs of the recount battle will please election junkies, political scientists and political consultants.

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Product Details

University of Minnesota Press
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6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

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