ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's new senator-elect, Norm Coleman, plotted how to maximize the start of his national political career Wednesday as Walter Mondale declared a final end to his, capping the pair's unprecedented one-week Senate contest with a gracious concession.
Coleman immediately began to think of the work ahead of him. He said he hoped Dean Barkley, the Independence Party leader whom Gov. Jesse Ventura appointed to fill Wellstone's seat on an interim basis, would consider stepping aside for at least a day so Coleman can enter the Senate with more seniority than the rest of his freshman class.
"I would anticipate we could work together to promote the best interests of Minnesotans," he said, noting that he'd talked to Barkley Tuesday night.
Coleman also said he would ask for seats on the agriculture and finance committees.
He credited his narrow win to his travel marathon in the campaign's final hours. "When you get 300 people in Brainerd to see you at four in the morning," he said, "you know something's happening."
He also said Mondale may have misplayed the candidates' only debate Monday in which he went on the offensive. "I believe that some of the tone at the debate had an impact on people," Coleman said.
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