Today’s UpTake: Emmer Withdraws Over 2,500 Frivolous Challenges

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Minnesota gubernatorial candidates Tom Emmer and Mark Dayton’s legal teams convened at the Hennepin County Government Center Saturday morning to review thousands of frivolous ballot challenges made by the Emmer team during last week’s statewide recount. In their weekend casual attire, top attorneys Eric Magnuson (representing Republican Emmer) and David Lillehaug (representing Democrat Dayton) laughed on occasion when they discovered a write-in vote for Magnuson, and a vote for “Lizard People”, the same “candidate” that caused a firestorm during the 2008 Franken-Coleman recount. Magnuson and other Emmer attorneys ultimately withdrew 2,580 frivolous ballot challenges, leaving only a couple dozen in the state’s most populous and contentious county.

Perhaps the real drama was on Friday, the final day of the statewide hand recount. Though behind by over 9,000 votes, according to the Dayton campaign, a defiant Tom Emmer held a news conference at which he refused to concede and refused to rule out a post-recount lawsuit. Then, at an afternoon State Canvassing Board meeting, current Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson schooled his onetime colleague, former Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Magnuson, questioning the latter’s professional integrity for standing by so many frivolous challenges, and producing Magnuson’s “hieroglyphics” from 2008 to show how the current Emmer lawyer’s apparent definition of frivolous contrasted with what he deemed frivolous while on the bench two years ago. The UpTake was there for all of the drama, and when the Canvassing Board reconvenes on Wednesday with the unenviable task of deciding how to proceed, we’ll bring it all to you live.

Over the weekend, we also posted videos of President Obama rallying the troops during a surprise appearance to Afghanistan, then praising the U.S.-South Korea trade deal. Because he was traveling on Air Force One, Vice President Biden delivered Obama’s weekly address. And Senator Al Franken weighed in on the most pressing national political issue of the day: whether to extend the Bush tax cuts. Franken argued against tax cuts for millionaires.

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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