Recount doing no favors to image of Coleman, Franken

Three months after the election, the battle for MinnesotaâÄôs second U.S. Senate seat rages on, causing possible negative implications for both candidatesâÄô images. With Republican Norm Coleman âÄôs lawsuit challenging the recount, which currently has Democrat Al Franken in the lead by a small margin of 225 votes , Minnesotans are unsure as to when a winner will be announced. âÄúItâÄôs not doing either person any good,âÄù University of Minnesota-Morris political science professor Paula OâÄôLoughlin said of the trialâÄôs impact on the candidatesâÄô public image. âÄúThe longer it drags on, the worse it will get.âÄù Larry Jacobs, director of the UniversityâÄôs Center for the Study of Politics and Governance , agrees with OâÄôLoughlin, saying he believes the lawsuit is cast in a negative light that has carried over from the campaign. âÄúWhen campaigns slash each other, they hurt themselves,âÄù Jacobs said. âÄúThis campaign showed it. When Coleman went negative, it hurt himself as much as Al Franken .âÄù While Jacobs is a proponent of the judicial process by which Coleman is contesting the recount, he said at some point Coleman will have to assess whether he has an actual shot at winning and what the impact of this trial could be on any future campaigns. âÄúIf Norm Coleman loses, he is relatively young,âÄù Jacobs said. âÄúThere are some major races coming up, including the contest for the gubernatorial race. Coleman may well have a close eye on his future viability. That will enter in as a constraint on how hard and long he will fight this thing.âÄù University marketing professor Akshay Rao , who has published articles on political races, said the best thing for both candidates to do right now is to be quiet. âÄúEvery time they open their mouths they sound self-serving. Franken has an advantage; he should sit in his lead and be quiet,âÄù Rao said. âÄúColeman should sit and be quiet and let the process go through. He is taking some heat right now because people are tired of what is going on.âÄù Rao added that with Minnesota one senator short in Washington, Franken needs to have someone else make the argument that he should be provisionally seated, and if he does not win, he should agree to step aside. OâÄôLoughlin said seating a senator is especially important as the Senate is readying to give the âÄúbiggest cash payout in history.âÄù âÄúSen. Amy Klobuchar is currently doing the job of two senators,âÄù OâÄôLoughlin said. With the Senate race largely a three-candidate race, Rao said whoever wins needs to keep in mind they were preferred by less than 50 percent of the electorate. While the battle is the first of its kind in terms of a Senate race, Jacobs said you can look to the heated governor race in Washington state, where winner Christine Gregoire was plagued by a negative image that carried into her time in office. âÄúIt was a knockout, drag-out battle,âÄù Jacobs said, adding some felt GregoireâÄôs victory came as a result of strategy rather than votes. For this reason, it will be important for whoever wins to rehabilitate their image right away by making sure they listen to constituents, Rao said. While Rao feels the negative images will only be temporary as âÄúsix years is a lifetime in politics,âÄù OâÄôLoughlin is not so sure. She said if either candidate chooses to run for office again they need to assure the public they have learned their lesson, and if they donâÄôt win clearly they will promise to obey the ruling of the public. OâÄôLoughlin said one thing both candidates can do immediately to improve their image is to be âÄúcognizant of the fact that they are being watched.âÄù âÄúBe aware of public awareness,âÄù OâÄôLoughlin said. âÄúDonâÄôt take on vestiges of power and establishing a staff when we donâÄôt know who [the winner] is.âÄù OâÄôLoughlin added the candidates should also stop fundraising and spending money, especially with the current economic condition. According to the campaigns, Franken has raised $3.2 million during the recount while Coleman has raised $3.1 million. In the meantime, OâÄôLoughlin said the public will just have to wait. âÄúPay attention,âÄù she said. âÄúSomeday weâÄôll have a senator.âÄù