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This Is Not Florida: How Al Franken Won the Minnesota Senate Recount Hardcover – September 16, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press (September 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816670382
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816670383
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,302,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Weiner provides a lively play-by-play of a recount that fascinated the state, if not the nation." —The New Yorker
"Those who were pulling for Al Franken will enjoy this detailed account of how the 2008 Senate race in Minnesota and its subsequent recount contributed to the Democrats' total of 60 senators—the magic number needed to beat back a Republican filibuster. As nasty, ugly and unappealing as the battle between Franken and Norm Coleman was, watching the two sides explore every opportunity to pick up a vote or three in the post-election recount was just fascinating. No, it wasn't Florida, as the title suggests. The presidency was not at stake. And in that contest, the Democrats lost. But they won in Minnesota in the Great Recount of 2009.  And if nothing else, the moral of the story is that every vote—every vote—counts." —Ken Rudin
"Weiner’s lively description of the ins and outs of the recount battle will please election junkies, political scientists and political consultants." —Kirkus Reviews
"The epic Franken-Coleman affair made Bush-Gore 2000 seem like a brief encounter. What the national media in DC observed through binoculars, Jay Weiner saw through a microscope. He's written a vivid tale of legal wrangling, political manuevering, and chutzpah told with a sportswriter's flair that puts to rest the notion that middle American politics are dull and shows that 'Minnesota nice' is nothing but an outdated cliche." —Glenn Thrush, POLITICO

About the Author

Jay Weiner's coverage of the 2008 U.S. Senate recount and election contest between Norm Coleman and Al Franken earned him the 2008 Frank Premack Public Affairs Journalism Award, Minnesota's highest journalism honor. A sports journalist with the Minneapolis Star Tribune for twenty-eight years, he has written for the Twin Cities-based news Web site since 2007 and is the author of Stadium Games: Fifty Years of Big League Greed and Bush League Boondoggles, also from the University of Minnesota Press. He lives and works in St. Paul.

More About the Author

Jay Weiner is a Twin Cities journalist who wrote about sports for 30 years before being asked by editors at startup to "help out" on coverage of the Al Franken-Norm Coleman U.S. Senate recount.

That led to eight months of daily recount coverage for MinnPost by Weiner, reporting that earned him Minnesota's top journalism prize, the 2009 Frank Premack Public Affairs Award for breaking news.

It culminated in him authoring, "This Is Not Florida: How Al Franken Won The Minnesota Senate Recount."

From 1980 to 2007, Weiner worked as a reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune specializing in off-the-field sports issues, mostly sports business matters, especially stadium finance debates. His first book, "Stadium Games: Fifty Years of Big League Greed and Bush League Boondoggles" was published in 2000 by the University of Minnesota Press.

Weiner also has covered every Winter and Summer Olympics since 1984, most recently the 2008 Beijing Summer Games for Sports Business Journal, the national sports trade publication, and the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games as a research supervisor for NBC's various networks.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Weiner attended Oberlin College and is a graduate of Temple University. He also has been a Policy Fellow at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. Married to William Mitchell College of Law Professor Ann Juergens, and the father of two sons, Henry and Nate, Weiner lives and works in St. Paul.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By F. X. Flinn on December 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Jay's recounting of the 2010 Minnesota Senate election recount process kept this political junkie up until the wee hours on a straight-thru read after picking it up at 10pm. A terrific combination of exegesis and context -- you get a clear understanding of where the votes are that might change the outcome, the rules under which Minnesota proceeds, the strategic options available to both campaigns, and the background on the key players who are integrating this in real-time.

As someone who works most elections locally and who has participated in a couple of recounts, the lessons of this recount are the enduring lessons common to all close elections: the more information your campaign can develop, and the larger the pool of volunteers and staff you can marshal during the recount, the more likely it is you'll win. There are some telling moments in this book where the Coleman campaign shoots itself in the foot by challenging absentee ballot submissions the Franken campaign is willing to accept, even though the Franken campaign suspects the vote may be in Coleman's favor. How can this happen? The Franken campaign's voter database is nearly complete in its rating of Minnesota voters, while the Coleman lists are so incomplete and out of date as to be essentially useless. The Franken campaign realizes within days of the election that absentee ballots are going to trend in Franken's favor by comparing lists of who took an absentee ballot with their database. Their main task becomes that of making sure absentee ballots wrongly put aside on election day as not being submitted correctly are counted. They succeed, and Franken's vote totals climb.

There are important lessons here for anyone involved in any kind of election work. A fast, breezy who-done-it for political geeks everywhere.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jay Weiner has written a relatively even-handed look at the recount and ensuing law suit of the Minnesota 2008 Senate race. This was a race that seemed to excite very few voters in the state because both major party candidates were unpopular. Al Franken, the comedian and writer, claimed the mantle of the late liberal senator, Paul Wellstone, but was personally disagreeable to many Democratic voters. Obama carried the state by a fairly large margin, making a win for Franken almost a sure-thing. However, thousands of Democrats seemed to enter the polling booths and vote for Obama and then either not vote in the Senate race, or voted for Barkley - the third-party candidate, who gained 15% of the vote - or voted for Minnesota's incumbent senator, Norm Coleman. Coleman, a former DFL'er who changed party affiliation to Republican and won the 2002 Senate race, basically because the incumbent, Democrat Paul Wellstone, was killed in a small-plane crash a few weeks before that election. So neither candidate - Franken or Coleman - had endeared themselves to the voting public in their nasty and expensive Senate race.

The first results of the race gave incumbent Coleman a margin of about 500 votes (out of 3 million votes cast) lead over Franken and Barkley, automatically triggering a recount by Minnesota law. This was the third or so major election recount since the 1950's and both sides, Republican and Democratic - knowing the results were going to be close - had geared up for it before the election, hiring lawyers and other political strategists. Neither side wanted a repeat of the 2000 Presidential election fight in Florida. Norm Coleman made a speech right after after the results were in, calling for Franken not to fight the results and concede the election "for the good of the state".
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Thomas D. Harrington on January 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A thorough look at one of the biggest recount battles of all time. Though the author, a sports writer by trade, doesn't initially take sides (he portrays Coleman as an uninspiring professional politician, Franken as an entertainer with a big mouth), he's eventually won over by the dedication and professionalism of the Franken team versus the inconsistent, often flailing Coleman team.

There are a lot of lessons to take from this book, but the biggest one can be found in its title. Though it it was spoken by a Republican appointed judge, it is now the slogan of every Democrat involved in a recount, perhaps for decades to come: the 2000 recount was a travesty of justice, and they will never let it happen again.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mark R. Jorgensen on November 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a good book. The author has done a very able job of research and interviewed many of the participants in the Coleman-Franken post-election contest. And contest it was -- a toxic brew of lawyering-up, public relations, the "facts" and the law, and personalities of all participants. I did not like either candidate and neither were worthy of being a U.S. senator from my state -- yet this is what the world has come to -- we live in a country of failing institutions and a citizenry uninformed, unwilling or just too busy to challenge the status quo.

My father was an election judge in Ramsey County, Minnesota, decades ago and I have followed voting issues since the 1990s when I first became aware that illegal voting and voter fraud were not isolated aberrations around the country. Now, relatively speaking, Minnesota has a good system. By national standards the process and outcome of the Coleman-Franken contest was fair -- on that point I agree with the author. Coleman's election day victory was undone by a number of factors which the author describes in detail. Yet I have still observed incidents of illegal voting by foreign students and voter fraud by other individuals in Minnesota. Then, too, I have known many individuals, Acorn-style activists particularly those in the neighborhoods around the University of Minnesota, who have been active in "registering" voters. Until 2008 there has been a deafening lack of interest by public officials in these issues. Finally we are beginning to see investigations and prosecutions of people who illegally vote, including in Minnesota!
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