Paper's count suggests Franken victory over Coleman
Published: Thursday December 18, 2008

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UPDATE: Franken takes lead in ongoing tally

Democratic challenger Al Franken for the first time took a lead over Sen. Norm Coleman in an ongoing recount in Minnesota, the Star Tribune reported.

According to the paper's running tally of ballot challenge results, Franken held a 270-vote lead as of Friday afternoon, and the margin was climbing.

The paper explained that such a lead was somewhat expected, as a state canvassing board had spent the morning considering Coleman challenges, most of which fail. Earlier days had been spent considering Franken challenges, which ended up with Coleman gaining votes.

As of Thursday night, Republican Sen. Norm Coleman's official lead over Democratic challenger Al Franken had shrunk to single digits, with 5,861 challenged ballots remaining to be counted.

But a newspaper's count of remaining challenges suggests Franken will end up the winner.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune, having just wrapped its own count of the ballots in question, predicts a final margin of just 89 votes, in Franken's favor. A Franken win would give Democrats 59 Senate seats.

The Huffington Post's Sam Stein first noted the likelihood of a Franken win.

The Star Tribune's count considered only the 6,000-plus ballots both campaigns challenged over the course of the recount, and it did not factor in some 1,500 absentee ballots that a the state Supreme Court just ordered back into the count. Those ballots had been improperly rejected on Election Day.

The decision to include those rejected absentee ballots virtually guarantees the recount will drag on into the new year.