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FiveThirtyEight

Politics

Norm Coleman, rather oddly, has decided to take a day job:

Norm Coleman (R) has taken a job with the Republican Jewish Coalition while contesting Democrat Al Franken’s lead in the Minnesota Senate race, his campaign confirmed Thursday.

In what could be seen as a sign that Coleman thinks his bid to return to the Senate may be lost, he has signed on to do consulting work for the group, which is comprised of a number GOP leaders.

“The senator needs to earn a living while the contest is going on,” said Coleman spokesman Mark Drake, who said the job does not at all affect Coleman’s bid to win reelection.

This makes little sense if you (i) are at all concerned about public sentiment, or (ii) think you have any chance whatsoever of actually prevailing in the recount. It reminds me a little bit of Mike Huckabee, already mathematically eliminated from the Republican nomination, went on a speaking junket to the Caribbean while ostensibly still seeking the presidency, a clear sign that he was staying in the race merely for the free media that would help him to build his brand for 2012 and beyond.

But what is Coleman’s angle here? Increasingly, I think this is being driven by John Cornyn and the RSCC, and that they’ve given up on beating Franken but merely want to bloody him, casting doubt over the legitimacy of his election in order to make him a focal point for Republican angst. If this were a generic Democrat instead of Franken, in other words, I think the Republicans might already have given up. But because Franken has the potential to be a polarizing figure, there is more incentive for them to fan the flames a little bit; the recount merely provides the pretense for them to do so.

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