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Published June 25, 2009, 12:48 AM

Nevis pig race will decide Coleman/Franken Senate race

Minnesota’s long-running U.S. Senate will be decided July 5 in Nevis.

By: Brad Swenson, Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI - Minnesota’s long-running U.S. Senate will be decided July 5 in Nevis.

Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken will see their battle decided by surrogates — pigs — in a race to the finish.

The “pork barrel race” to end the Coleman/Franken election is part of Nevis’ Fourth of July festivities that includes the inaugural Nevis Pig Races, says Dave McCurnin of the Nevis Chamber & Commerce Association.

“For a small fraction of the $50 million spent by the candidates so far, each will get his name on the back of a piglet,” McCurnin said Tuesday. “Whichever of these cute babies gets to the finish first will drop the curtain on this never-ending and much wrung-out election.”

Coleman, the incumbent senator, and Franken are awaiting the decision of the Minnesota Supreme Court in Coleman’s appeal asking that some 4,000 absentee ballots be counted. At this point, Franken has the lead — 312 votes of nearly 3 million votes cast.

“This (the pig race) is more exciting than the eight-month wait now in the Supreme Court,” McCurnin said. “This should have been decided by an NFL referee — they decide on the field.”

McCurnin didn’t say what would happen if the Supreme Court issues its ruling before July 5.

To keep the race clean, McCurnin said the piglets will be given drug tests. “Side bets will not be taken for this particular race and the trainers confirmed they won’t be tempted to take bribes to throw the race,” he said.

“We’ll decide this in 10 seconds — we’ll have hanging pig tails while Florida has hanging chads,” McCurnin said. “The results will be unofficial until certified by the Supreme Court.”

Nevis Pig Races start at 4:05 p.m. in downtown Nevis — population 364 — and feature nine five-piglet races and the Coleman/Franken piglet race. The latter is scheduled to start at 5:31 p.m.

The Nevis Chamber & Commerce is looking for area businesses and individuals to sponsor the piglets, and will have their logo printed on a vest worn by the sponsored pig.

Coleman and Franken pigs will have the candidate’s names on them, McCurnin said, with an anonymous sponsor already set for the Coleman pig.

“Maybe we’ll have Rush Limbaugh or Steven Colbert sponsor the Franken pig,” McCurnin said.

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