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Minnesota Senate Race

by Alex Miller

On January 5, 2009, the Minnesota State Canvassing Board certified the election of Al Franken as US Senator, following a ruling earlier that day by the Minnesota Supreme Court, which refused to include 654 rejected absentee ballots in the recount. Franken, a former Saturday Night Live cast member and political activist, the author of “Rush Limbaugh is a Big, Fat Idiot” (1999) and “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them” (2004), won the election by 225 votes, almost a mirror-image reversal of the first certification on November 18, 2008, which showed Franken’s opponent, incumbent Republican Senator Norm Coleman, ahead by 215 votes. This razor-thin margin of victory mandated an automatic recount under Minnesota election law, a grueling process wherein all 2.9 million ballots were re-examined by hand, which took 62 days to complete.

But the race is not quite over yet. Former Senator Coleman (whose term technically expired on January 3, leaving the seat in abeyance) has filed a lawsuit alleging irregularities both in the election itself and the subsequent recount. The move, supported by the state’s Republican governor Tim Pawlenty, may keep the seat open for up to two more months, as Minnesota election law forbids final certification until all legal challenges have been resolved. Franken was present in Washington when the 111th Congress was sworn in January 6, but was not admitted to the Senate.

Al FrankenFranken (born 21 May 1951) may be best known for his Saturday Night Live character, self-help guru Stuart Smalley, but his career as a writer for the late-night sketch comedy show extended over 15 years between 1975 and 1995. Franken is the author of five bestselling books, three of which were number one on the New York Times bestsellers list; he also co-wrote the screenplay for 1994’s “When a Man Loves a Woman.” Beginning in 2004, Franken hosted a three-hour long radio show weekdays on the progressive Air America Radio network, originally entitled “The O’Franken Factor” (a backhanded homage to FOX News’ conservative pitchman Bill O’Reilly), later renamed simply “The Al Franken Show.”

In 2005 Franken resumed residence in his native Minnesota, preparing to challenge Republican Senator Norm Coleman for the seat vacated by the death of Senator Paul Wellstone in a suspicious private plane crash just days before the 2002 election. On February 14, 2007, Franken ended his Air America show with a formal announcement of his candidacy for the Senate in 2008. His fundraising capacity equaled incumbent Senator Coleman’s almost from the start, allowing Franken to easily overcome his primary opponents, and on June 7, 2008, he emerged from the Democratic party’s state convention as its senate nominee.

Initial reports of the November 4 election tally seemed to favor Coleman by more than 700 votes, but by the official certification on November 18, that lead had shrunk to 215. An automatic hand recount lasting two months reversed the outcome, giving the election to Franken by 225 votes, as certified on January 5, 2009, but the final result remains in doubt until Coleman’s lawsuit has been decided.

The genesis of this bizarre contest can be found in the transits for Election Day, principally in Mercury’s placement exactly conjunct the reality-flipping Black Hole at 29 Libra. From there Mercury reprised its position from the 2000 election, in which the presidency was in doubt for six weeks as disputed tallies and recounts of Florida’s vote see-sawed between Gore and Bush until a legal slap-down in the US Supreme Court gave the White House to Dubya. Mercury rules the decision-making process and the vote itself, and its placement exactly atop a Black Hole ensures unexpected outcomes and reversals. A comparison of Florida in 2000 and Minnesota in 2008 shows starting similarities too obvious to miss.

Also on Election Day 2008, Mercury was in sextile to transit Pluto at 29 Sagittarius, and the attentive astro-analyst will have noted that both these points were inconjunct Franken’s natal Sun/Mars union at 29 Taurus, forming a Yod, or Finger of Destiny. Although the initial estimates and the first certification favored Coleman, an erosion of that reality was likely, and duly ensued when transit Jupiter, ruling politics, moved to 29 Capricorn, to square Mercury’s Election Day degree and trine Franken’s Sun, just as the second certification gave him the victory on January 5.

Norm ColemanNorm Coleman’s nativity (born 17 August 1949) shows a powerful Galactic T-Square from the natal Sun at 24 Leo in exact opposition to a success- and achievement-oriented Quasar at 24 Aquarius and exactly squared the powerful but unstable Black Hole at 24 Taurus. This dynamic configuration has served Coleman well, the Quasar elevating him to mayor of St. Paul, gubernatorial candidate, and US Senator. But the Black Hole contact, while it granted opportunities, also provided several humiliating reversals, as in his defeat to former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura in the 1998 Minnesota governor’s race, and now being unseated from the Senate by former SNL alum Franken. But on Election Day itself, Coleman’s cause was supported by transit Mars at 21 Scorpio, which filled in the empty leg of the natal T-Square to create a Galactic Grand Cross, a zodiacal region also energized at the time of the first certification on November 18, in Coleman’s favor, by a conjunction of the Sun and Mercury at 26 and 22 Scorpio respectively.

However, nothing trumps destiny, and Franken’s Yod eventually won out. Franken garnered additional Deep Space support from his natal Mercury, ruling elections, which at 4 Taurus is exactly conjunct one accomplishment-producing Quasar and exactly opposed a second at 4 Scorpio. This pair is also responsible for Franken’s unusually successful writing (Mercury) career, helping him to stand out in a crowd as an SNL writer, produce his five bestselling books, a major Hollywood screenplay, and his popular radio show, all Mercury venues. The Quasar polarity becomes a T-Square with the addition of the Black Hole at 2 Leo, the parallel reality evocation of the Black Hole providing unexpected opportunities and opening doors, and this pattern was precisely transformed into a tight Grand Cross by the addition of transit Mercury at 4 Aquarius on the day of the second certification, exactly squared natal Mercury and the Quasar polarity, favoring Franken.

The Saturn/Uranus opposition which was first exact on Election Day also played a role, with Coleman as the incumbent represented by establishment-ruling Saturn, and Franken identified as the challenger Uranus, whose ruling Sign of Aquarius ably depicts his comedy background. As in the McCain/Saturn-Obama/Uranus contest, Uranus emerged the winner, but it is not only in these generic terms that the opposition manifested Franken’s ultimate victory. Fate again plays its part, for the opposition lay closely across Franken’s natal Nodal Axis, describing his destiny, with North Node at 16 Virgo and South Node at 16 Pisces, and this forms the spine of yet another fateful Yod created by semisextiles from the North Node to Franken’s natal Pluto at 17 Leo and natal Neptune at 17 Libra. These were further activated on Election Day by transit Jupiter at 17 Capricorn, exactly squared Franken’s Neptune and inconjunct his Pluto, creating, with his Nodal Axis and the Saturn/Uranus opposition, a five-pointed Pentagram of celestial energies highlighting Franken’s destiny and purpose.

Will Coleman’s legal challenge prove successful? A pair of eclipses in late January and early February argue against it. On January 26 a Solar Eclipse at 6 Aquarius falls on the Mercury of the second certification and highlights Franken’s natal Mercury by square, perhaps locking in the numbers favorable to his cause. The subsequent Lunar Eclipse of 9 February at 20 Leo squares the combative Mars of the Election, possibly signaling an end to the fight, and falls close by Coleman’s natal Sun at 24 Leo, an indication of his overshadowing. While events influenced by Black Hole energies can be difficult to predict, a third change of fortunes seems unlikely at this stage, allowing Stuart Smalley to finally go to Washington.

Alex Miller, photoAlex Miller is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book and The Urban Wicca, former editor of "The Galactic Calendar," and past president of The Philadelphia Astrological Society.

His pioneering work with Black Holes in astrological interpretation began in 1991, when his progressed Sun unwittingly fell into one. Alex can be reached for comment or services at