U.S. Senate, 2008 Election


Date: November 4, 2008
Cycle: 2008
Office: U.S. Senate
State: Minnesota
District: Statewide
Candidate Gender Party Votes Percent Margin
Al Franken Man Democratic-Farmer-Labor 1,212,629 41.99 +0.01
Norm Coleman Incumbent Man Republican 1,212,317 41.98
Dean Barkley Man Independence 437,505 15.15
Charles Aldrich Man Libertarian 13,923 0.48
James Niemackl Man Constitution 8,907 0.31
Michael James Cavlan Man Write-In 13 0.00
Anthony Keith Price Man Write-In 12 0.00

This election was subject to a hand recount and subsequent court contest. Coleman led by 215 votes after the initial State Canvassing Board meeting on November 18, 2008 (1,211,590 to 1,211,375). Coleman led by 12 votes following the hand recount on December 5, 2008 which excluded challenged ballots (1,209,240 to 1,209,228). Franken led by 49 votes after the State Canvassing Board reviewed the challenged ballots on December 20, 2008 (1,211,950 to 1,211,901). Franken led by 225 votes after the counting of improperly rejected absentee ballots, which was ordreed by the Minnesota Supreme Court, certified by the State Canvassing Board on January 5, 2009 (1,212,431 to 1,212,206). Franken led by 312 votes after a three-judge panel counted improperly rejected absentee ballots during the election contest on April 13, 2009 (1,212,629 to 1,212,317).

Senator Coleman became the 11th incumbent U.S. Senator to lose reelection joining Democrat James Shields in 1859, Democrat Charles Towne in 1901, Republican Moses Clapp in 1916, Republican Frank Kellogg in 1922, Republican Henrik Shipstead in 1946, Republican Joseph Ball in 1948, Republican Edward J. Thye in 1958, DFLer Wendell Anderson in 1978, Republican Rudy Boschwitz in 1990, and Republican Rod Grams in 2000.

Franken was a comedian, author, and actor from Minneapolis. He was the party-endorsed candidate.

Barkley was an attorney from Plymouth, former U.S. Senator (2001-2002), independent candidate for the 6th CD in 1992, Reform nominee for U.S. Senate in 1994, Independence nominee for U.S. Senate in 1996, and nominee for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in 2012. Barkley's 15.15 percent was the best showing by a third party or independent candidate in a Minnesota U.S. Senate election since Farmer-Laborite Al Hansen in 1942 (26.68 percent).

Aldrich was a resident of St. Paul.

Niemackl was a resident of Richfield and detective with the Hopkins Police Department.


  • State of Minnesota Legislative Manual, 2009-2010 (p. 495). Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State, 2008 General Election Results.