Monday, May 11, 2009

Al Franken FTW

It's a wrap!
Thank you all for being here.

Franni and I couldn’t be happier, because today, after a lengthy and careful trial scrutinizing our lengthy and careful recount, the three-judge panel has declared a winner in the 2008 Senate election here in Minnesota.

I am honored and humbled by this close victory, and I’m looking forward to getting to work as soon as possible.

I am, of course, incredibly gratified by today’s ruling, and grateful to the judges, to our legal team, and most of all, to Minnesota’s civil servants, elected officials, and citizen volunteers who have taken so much time and gone to so much effort over the past weeks and months to make sure that the votes were accurately counted.

It has been more than five months since Election Day, and more than three months since the winner of this election was supposed to be sworn in to go to work for the people of Minnesota.

This long delay in the seating of Minnesota’s second U.S. Senator has come at a time when our state badly needs help from Washington.

Since Election Day, Minnesota has lost 56,000 jobs.

Since Election Day, 9,000 Minnesota families have lost their homes.

And all of us have watched as our neighbors in the Red River Valley have struggled and suffered in the wake of the flooding there.

Now, if I had to pick one person to do the job of two United States Senators, it would absolutely be Amy Klobuchar. Senator Klobuchar - and, I must stress, her amazing staff - have performed incredible feats of constituent service over the past few months.

But she’s only one Senator. And it’s time that Minnesota, like every other state, had two.

You know, over the past few months, we’ve all learned more about the mechanics of democracy than we ever thought possible.

And that’s a good thing. But it’s important to remember why we go through all of this in the first place, why people go to the trouble of standing in line for hours or filling out absentee ballots or even driving down to a St. Paul courtroom from all over the state to make sure their votes are counted properly.

After all, this was a hard-fought election, and the fighting continued long after the polls closed, but there’s a reason we fought hard.

We didn’t fight hard simply because we wanted to win.

We fought hard because every Minnesotan knows someone who’s losing a job or a home, someone who’s struggling to pay for tuition or prescription drugs.

We fought hard because the American dream, the dream that my family believed in when I was growing up in a middle-class home in St. Louis Park, is slipping away from too many families.

We fought hard because when Washington lets us down, it’s our friends, our neighbors, our family members who suffer, and when we can do something about it, we owe it to them to fight hard.

It’s like Paul Wellstone always said. Politics isn’t about winning. It’s about the improvement of people’s lives.

And so, I want to say a word to those on both sides of the aisle who have followed every twist and turn of the recount and contest, whether it was on the Uptake’s live blog or a discussion with friends in a coffee shop, whether it was with patience or frustration: Let’s not forget why this election mattered.

Let’s commit ourselves with the same energy and passion to addressing the challenges we face, improving the lives of our neighbors, and building a better future for Minnesota.

The campaign for this Senate seat has been long and expensive. But the fight ahead, the fight to rebuild our economy and repair our broken health care system and restore our standing in the world - that’s a fight we must win. It’s a fight we must win by setting aside partisan gamesmanship and working together.

My role in that fight will be to work every day with Senators from both parties to serve the state I love, because restoring America’s promise is going to be a big job. And it’s long past time we got to work.

Thank you.