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Franson prevails in recount

A two-day recount put Minnesota State Representative Mary Franson 12 votes ahead of Bob Cunniff, apparently sending her to a second term in the House.

There are not enough ballots in question to give Cunniff the lead.

The State Canvassing Board was expected to certify the vote on December 4. The final numbers were Franson - 10,642 and Cunniff - 10,630.

Franson, R-Alexandria, picked up one vote Thursday during the Otter Tail County recount in Fergus Falls. Franson and Cunniff, DFL-Alexandria, each gained a vote during last Wednesday's Douglas County recount.

In response to the recount Franson said:

"This entire election campaign has been a journey. While I was expecting the journey to be over November 6, God had other plans. I am very thankful for all the support I received while on the campaign trail and through the recount. Every day since Election Day someone would tell me how they gave me the one vote or they knew who did. Every time I heard a story I was reassured that the recount would result in me continuing to represent the district."

"There is a lot of work to do in St. Paul. My priority will continue to remain the same and I will continue to believe that raising taxes will kill jobs and the economy...

"I look forward to representing District 8b and welcome any questions, comments, or concerns from my constituents."

Recounts in the two counties left Franson with the dozen-vote lead. Cunniff's attorney challenged who should receive five votes, while Franson's attorney challenged one.

Even if the state board agrees with all of Cunniff's challenges, he would remain short of Franson, a freshman lawmaker who has been a lightning rod for welfare supporters.

The House District 8B race was a one-vote affair, with Franson in front, on election night.

Her lead increased to 11 when 35 ballots were randomly discarded after over-votes were found in three Alexandria precincts. A judge ordered the ballots withdrawn before the recount, as state law requires.

Cunniff won a majority of Franson's home county, Douglas, but the incumbent carried Otter Tail.

Cunniff conceded the race Thursday, stating he will not pursue legal arguments after the recount process is completed. He issued the following statement:

"First, I want to thank my family, friends, campaign volunteers, and supporters for everything they've done throughout the course of the election and in these weeks since then. While I am of course disappointed with the final outcome. I am proud of what we have accomplished and am grateful to have had the experience of meeting so many extraordinary people.

"The election proved yet again the importance of voting, and of making sure everyone's votes are counted fairly and accurately. I want to thank Douglas County Auditor Char Rosenow and Otter Tail County Auditor Wayne Stein and their staff for their work in administering the election and overseeing the recount process. I am also thankful for volunteers from both campaigns who worked hard to make sure the recount was conducted quickly and fairly.

"Now that the process has come to an end, I would like to congratulate Representative Mary Franson on her victory. I wish her and her family well during this holiday season. I believe the results of this election show that people of our district - and the state - would like to see more cooperation and compromise in St. Paul, and if there is anything I can do to help in that regard, I will be happy to lend a hand."

DFL Chair Ken Martin also commented on the recount, saying, "Though the outcome was not what we had hoped, we remain proud of Bob's efforts and all the work we have done in Otter Tail County and Douglas County. We are grateful to all those who worked with us throughout the campaign and in the last few weeks."

Martin added that the election proved yet again that every single vote matters. "In close races like this, we are reminded of how fortunate we are to have a world-class election system in our state, which will ensure that every vote is counted."


Echo Press Editor Al Edenloff and Reporter Crystal Dey contributed to this story.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.