ST. PAUL (AP) -- Preliminary returns from a ballot recount in the 2nd Congressional District show Republican Mark Kennedy widening his lead over incumbent DFLer David Minge, the Kennedy campaign said Friday night.
Minge lost to Kennedy by 155 votes on Election Night, but he filed a lawsuit forcing a hand recount that began last week.
Tony Trimble, Kennedy's attorney, said the recount added 79 undisputed votes to the Kennedy column to increase his lead to 234 votes.
Those numbers don't include challenged ballots, but Trimble said he didn't think there will be enough challenged ballots in the end to change the outcome.
"The combination of a vote increase and lack of serious challenges by the Minge campaign make Congressman-elect Kennedy's swearing in on January 3 inevitable," Trimble said.
While hundreds of disputed ballots were set aside during the hand recount, attorneys for each side planned to work through the weekend to winnow down the number.
Trimble said they had already finished with 13 of the 28 affected counties by Friday night and already had resolved 800 to 900 challenges, leaving only 111 challenged ballots from the 13 counties. Those counties provided 47.5 percent of the district's total votes, he said.
Ballots that still remain in dispute will be presented to Wright County Judge Bruce Douglas on Monday morning for a final determination. When all of the disputes are resolved, the judge will issue an order with the final count, which must be certified by the Secretary of State -- largely a formality.
If a dispute still exists, the district court judge's decision can be appealed to the state Court of Appeals.
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