And now the most fascinating two minutes in television, the latest from the election-day grapevine:
State Law Clashes With Constitution
If Republican Norm Coleman wins that Minnesota Senate seat, state law provides that he would immediately fill the vacancy created by the death of Democratic Senator Paul Wellstone, which could give the Republicans an immediate majority, even before the new Congress begins. But it probably won't happen because Minnesota law would collide with a standing Senate interpretation of the Constitution, which is that allowing such an immediate replacement would illegally extend his Senate term beyond the constitutionally prescribed six years. That would leave Dean Barkley, the man Jesse Ventura named yesterday to fill the Wellstone term, in place until January, with the Senate controlled by whatever party he lines up with.
Rallying in Memphis
Speaking of Minnesota, joining Walter Mondale and other Democratic candidates at an afternoon rally in Minneapolis yesterday was none other than Jessica Lange. the Minnesota-born actress who co-starred in the movie Tootsie. Prior to yesterday, her most recent appearance in the political news columns was when she said a few weeks ago at a film festival in Spain that, "I hate Bush. I despise him and his entire administration." She added, "It makes me feel ashamed to come from the United States. It is humiliating."
It has been a tough week for incumbent Democratic Congresswoman Julia Carson of Indiana. Not only did she have the trouble we mentioned earlier when she went to vote today, with the machine that at first would not let her vote for herself. Last week, she got up and walked out of a debate with her Republican challenger, former Senate aide Brose McVey. Carson said she would not sit on the same stage with McVey, after Republican ads faulted her for failure to pay property taxes on time from 1997 to 2001. Carson blamed the late payments on the illness of her mother, who died in 1987.
So Close, Yet So Far Away
Finally, Bill Clinton was much in evidence on the campaign trail in recent weeks, but none of the candidates in the closest Senate races were seen with him. He did campaign for both Mark Pryor in Arkansas and Frank Lautenberg in New Jersey, but neither of those races is still considered tight. His wife, meanwhile, not only campaigned with more candidates, but appeared with the Democrats in such cliffhanger states as Minnesota, New Hampshire, Colorado and Missouri.