For the former Secretary of Agriculture, see Norman Jay Coleman.

Norman Bertram "Norm" Coleman, Jr., (born August 17, 1949) is an American lobbyist, lawyer and politician. He served as a U.S. Senator from Minnesota from 2003 until 2009. Coleman was elected in 2002 and served in the 108th, 109th, and 110th Congresses. Before becoming a Senator, he was Mayor of Saint Paul, Minnesota (1994–2002). Previously a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL), Coleman became a Republican in 1996.

Coleman's 2008 U.S. Senate re-election bid, in which he was challenged by Democrat Al Franken and former Senator Dean Barkley, was long unresolved. His term ended on January 3, 2009; and, after a six-month legal battle in which he lost each decision in the process, the Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously declared Franken the election winner by 312 votes (out of over 3 million cast) on June 30, 2009, prompting Coleman to concede.[1][2]

Early life

Coleman was born in New York, a son of Norman Bertram Coleman, Sr., and his wife, Beverly (Behrman).[3] His family was Jewish, his paternal grandfather having changed the surname from Goldman to Coleman.[4] He was a graduate of James Madison High School in Brooklyn and Hofstra University on Long Island. New York Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, attended high school with Coleman; Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg are both graduates of the same high school.

During his time at college, Coleman was an active member of the 1960s counterculture and a liberal Democrat. "Carting a bullhorn around campus, he'd regularly lecture students about the immorality of the Nixon administration and the Vietnam War."[5] He successfully ran for president of the student senate during his junior year. Under Coleman, the senate refused to ratify the newspaper's editor and her co-editor and cut some funding to the newspaper. But after refusing to swear in the editor on four different occasions, the senate finally backed down.[5] He admitted to smoking marijuana,[6] and he celebrated his 20th birthday at the Woodstock Festival.[7] He worked as a roadie for Jethro Tull and Ten Years After, amongst others.[7]

Early career

Coleman attended Brooklyn Law School from 1972 until 1974 but later received his Juris Doctor from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1976.[8] Coleman then joined the office of the Minnesota Attorney General as a prosecutor, eventually rising to chief prosecutor and then solicitor general. Coleman left the Attorney General's office upon being elected the mayor of St. Paul.[9]

Political career

Mayor of Saint Paul

In 1993, Coleman was elected mayor of St. Paul as a Democrat.[10] One of his first actions as mayor was the elimination of underfunded retirement health benefits for city workers.[11]

One of Coleman's best-known accomplishments as mayor of Saint Paul was bringing professional hockey back to Minnesota. In 1993, the Minnesota North Stars moved to Dallas, Texas. On June 7, 1997 the NHL awarded Saint Paul an expansion franchise, later named the Minnesota Wild, that would play in a new arena in downtown at the site of Civic Center Arena. The new arena, later named the Xcel Energy Center, was built through a public-private partnership, with $65 million from state taxpayers and $30 million from the city of Saint Paul.[12][13]

Coleman also successfully fought property tax increases, freezing property tax rates[11] for the eight years he served as mayor. During Coleman's mayoralty, St. Paul’s job rate grew by 7.1 percent and 18,000 jobs were added.[11]

While many praised him for his “pragmatic”[11] leadership style and successes in revitalizing St. Paul, critics labeled him an "opportunist" and Coleman frequently found himself at odds with the Democratic Party's more liberal members. In 1996, he was sometimes booed at party events or excluded from them altogether.[14]

Coleman joined the Republican Party in 1996 and was reelected Mayor of St. Paul in 1997, defeating Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party nominee State Senator Sandy Pappas.[15]

Coleman's lobbying for the hockey team and arena raised his profile around the state and made him contacts that helped him in his later runs for statewide office. In 1998 he lost a bid for governor of Minnesota to former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura, a member of the Reform Party of Minnesota; the DFL candidate was Hubert H. "Skip" Humphrey III.[citation needed]

U.S. Senate, 2003-2009

Coleman had made plans for a second run for governor in 2002, but was persuaded by Karl Rove and George W. Bush to run against incumbent Senator Paul Wellstone in that year's Senate election. The White House was determined to unseat Wellstone, and felt Coleman, with his popularity in heavily Democratic St. Paul, offered the best chance of doing so. Coleman easily won the Republican nomination.

Coleman and Wellstone were neck-and-neck in most polls for most of the campaign.[16] Wellstone died in a plane crash on October 25, 2002. The Democrats named former Vice President Walter Mondale to replace Wellstone on the ballot. Mondale had held the same Senate seat from 1964 to 1977. Coleman narrowly defeated Mondale in the election, winning by just over 61,000 votes out of over 2 million statewide. Coleman succeeded Dean Barkley, who had been appointed by Ventura to serve the remaining two months of Wellstone's term.

In April 2003, Coleman told a Capitol Hill reporter that he was a "99% improvement" over Wellstone because he had a better working relationship with the White House. Many Wellstone supporters found this offensive and insulting, and at least one member of Congress urged Coleman to apologize. Coleman issued an apology, explaining that he was referring specifically to the reporter's question about the differences between his and Wellstone's relationship with the White House, and saying in part "I would never want to diminish the legacy or memory of Senator Paul Wellstone, and I will accept full responsibility for not having been more accurate in my comments."[17] In 2004 Coleman campaigned for the chairmanship of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), but was narrowly defeated for the post by North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole in a 28–27 vote.[citation needed]

2008 re-election campaign

In 2008, Coleman's opponents for reelection were Dean Barkley and the DFL nominee, former Air America host and comedian Al Franken. On the day after the election, Coleman led in votes and claimed victory in the race. Minnesota law requires an automatic recount when the margin between the leading candidates is less than 0.5% of the vote,[18] and the margin between Coleman and Franken was about 0.01%. Barkley came in third with 15%.

The initial results of the recount put Franken ahead by 225 votes, out of almost 2.9 million votes cast.[19] On December 24, 2008, after losing a unanimous decision at the hands of the Minnesota Supreme Court, Coleman's lawyers stated that it was now a "virtual certainty" that Coleman would contest the results of the election.[20]

Coleman's term expired on January 3, 2009.[21]

On January 5, Franken was certified as the winner of the recount by 225 votes. Coleman filed a legal challenge of the results[22] on January 6,[23][24] a three-judge panel was seated.[25]

On February 3, the panel allowed Coleman to introduce evidence that as many as 4,800 absentee ballots were wrongly rejected and should now be counted. The Franken campaign had tried to limit Coleman to bringing evidence on only the 650 absentee ballots cited in the initial court filing.[26]

On April 1, the panel ordered that an additional 400 absentee ballots be examined.[27] After examining the 400 ballots on April 6, the panel ordered that an additional 351 ballots be opened and counted.[28] On April 7, the additional 351 ballots were opened and counted before the panel and a packed courtroom.[29] Franken got an additional 198 votes, Coleman gained 111 votes, and other candidates received 42, increasing Franken's lead to 312 votes.

On April 13, the three-judge panel issued its final ruling, sweeping aside all of Coleman's legal claims and declaring Franken the winner of the race by 312 votes. In its unanimous decision, the panel said, "The overwhelming weight of the evidence indicates that the November 4, 2008 election was conducted fairly, impartially and accurately", and said that Franken should be issued a Certificate of Election.[30][31] The panel ruled that Coleman failed to prove that mistakes or irregularities in the treatment of absentee ballots would have altered the outcome of the election.[32]

Coleman appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on June 1.[33] On June 30, the court unanimously ruled in Franken's favor, declaring him the winner of the election, prompting Coleman's concession.[1]

Deep Marine Technology and corruption allegations

While running for reelection in 2008, Coleman was mentioned in a Texas lawsuit by Paul McKim, CEO of Deep Marine Technology (DMT), against Nasser Kazeminy. Kazeminy was a longtime Coleman supporter who owned a controlling share of DMT.[34] The petition alleged that Kazeminy used DMT to funnel $75,000 or more to Laurie Coleman through her employer, Hays Companies, in order to enrich Senator Coleman. McKim's petition covered several issues, of which the Coleman matter was only one. Coleman's 2009 Senate financial disclosure form disclosed that Laurie Coleman received a salary from Hays Companies, but Senate rules do not require the salary amount to be revealed.[35] Neither Coleman nor his wife were named as defendants in the suit.[34] On October 31, a related suit was filed in Delaware Chancery Court by minority shareholders in DMT. The Delaware suit also alleged that DMT was used as a conduit for unearned funds to Laurie Coleman through Hays Companies, at Kazeminy's behest. As in the Texas case, the Colemans were not named as defendants, and Coleman was not charged with any ethical or legal wrongdoing.[36]

Coleman was cleared of wrongdoing regarding allegations of corruption in receiving gifts of $100,000 from Kazeminy. Doug Grow, a MinnPost columnist, expressed skepticism about the findings.[37][38] Coleman responded with a campaign ad in which he denied the allegations and blamed them on his opponent in the 2008 senate race, Democrat Al Franken.[39]

In June 2011, the U.S. Justice Department decided not to file charges against Coleman or Kazeminy.[40]Louis Freeh, an attorney for Kazeminy and a former FBI Director in the Clinton Administration, said he learned the Justice Department had ended the investigation in a February 24 meeting with Andrew Levchuk of the department's Public Integrity Section in Washington.[41][42]

Freeh was hired by Kazeminy to conduct an independent investigation of all charges, and concluded that there was no wrongdoing or impropriety on behalf of the Colemans or Kazeminy.[42] Freeh said both his investigation, and a separate Deep Marine board investigation, concluded McKim made false claims in an attempt to force a larger severance package out of Deep Marine.[42]The Intercept, questioning Freeh's impartiality, reported that nine days after Freeh's investigation cleared Kazeminy of wrongdoing, Freeh's wife received a one-half ownership stake from Kazeminy in a Palm Beach property valued at $3 million.[43] McKim’s allegations were repeated hundreds of times in local and national media reports during the waning days of the 2008 election in what Coleman called “multi-million-dollar attacks against my family and Nasser Kazeminy”.[44]

Freeh says McKim later prepared an affidavit that would have recanted his allegations against the Colemans and Kazeminy in exchange for a financial settlement. He concluded that McKim had a clear motive to use false allegations as leverage to enrich himself.[45] McKim still questioned the legitimacy of insurance payments and said he had done nothing wrong, but another of Kazeminy's attorneys said his client had not ruled out future litigation against McKim.[46]

A columnist at the Weekly Standard said "it is possible that the allegations against Coleman may have handed victory to Al Franken."[45]

2009 and beyond

In January 2009, Coleman became an adviser to and board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition.[47] and board director.[48]

After sitting Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty announced that he would not seek re-election in 2010, it was widely anticipated that Coleman would run for governor. Polls in late 2009 showed him the favorite among Republicans and polling the strongest among all potential Republican candidates.[49][50] However Coleman announced on January 17, 2010 that he would not run, saying "The timing on this race is both a bit too soon and a bit too late. It is too soon after my last race and too late to do a proper job of seeking the support of delegates who will decide in which direction our party should go. The commitments I have to my family and the work I am currently engaged in do not allow me to now go forward."[51] In 2010, Coleman became Chairman and CEO of the American Action Network, which he co-founded.[52]

Coleman was considered a front-runner for the Republican National Committee's Chairmanship. Coleman said that he would not run against Michael Steele should Steele seek re-election to that position; when Steele announced his candidacy for re-election, in December 2010, Coleman stated that he would not run for the chairmanship.[53] In April 2011, Coleman joined Hogan Lovells, an international legal practice, as senior government advisor in their Washington D.C. office.[54]

Coleman is also on the National Advisory Council for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, a bipartisan committee that promotes international engagement, and which includes every living former U.S. Secretary of State.[citation needed] He also works as a lobbyist on behalf of the government of Saudi Arabia.[55]

Political positions

Coleman's politics have changed dramatically during his political career.


In college, Coleman was a liberal Democrat and was actively involved in the anti-war movement of the early 1970s.[56][57] He once was suspended for leading a sit-in protest.[58] He ran for student senate and opined in the school newspaper that his fellow students should vote for him because he knew that, "These conservative kids don't fuck or get high like we do (purity, you know)... Already the cries of motherhood, apple pie, and Jim Buckley reverberate through the halls of the Student Center. Everyone watch out, the 1950s bobby-sox generation is about to take over."[57][59]

Becoming a Republican

While running for mayor in 1993, Coleman wrote in a letter to the City Convention Delegates: "I have never sought any other political office. I have no other ambition other than to be mayor." In the letter he said:

I am a lifelong Democrat. Some accuse me of being the fiscal conservative in this race—I plead guilty! I'm not afraid to be tight with your tax dollars. Yet, my fiscal conservatism does not mean I am any less progressive in my Democratic ideals. From Bobby Kennedy to George McGovern to Warren Spannaus to Hubert Humphrey to Walter Mondale—my commitment to the great values of our party has remained solid.

In 1996, Coleman chaired Wellstone's Senate re-election campaign. While making the Wellstone nomination speech at the 1996 state DFL convention, Coleman stated: "Paul Wellstone is a Democrat, and I am a Democrat." At this point in time, tensions were so high between Coleman and the DFL party that a number of delegates at the convention were loudly booing Coleman's speech.[60]

In December 1996, Coleman announced he was leaving the DFL party to join the Republican Party. He cited his frustrations with the Democratic Party and his belief that the Republican Party offered the best chance to continue his efforts to hold the line on taxes and grow jobs.[61][62]

Coleman's critics, mostly DFL party leaders, speculated that his switch was motivated by his known aspirations for statewide office.[63] As an abortion opponent and a frequent adversary of public employee unions, Coleman's positions put him at odds with the DFL Party leadership in Minnesota. In a letter to supporters announcing the switch, Coleman wrote that “while the political party I belong to changes, nothing about how I govern or what I believe changes at all.”[64] He was re-elected as St. Paul Mayor in 1997, with nearly 60% of the vote.

As Senator

Coleman was a member of the Republican Main Street Partnership. In March 2007, National Journal ranked Coleman the fourth most liberal Republican in the Senate. GovTrack, an independent tracking website, also describes Coleman as a "moderate Republican" based on their own bill analysis.[65]

In September 2008, Coleman joined the bipartisan Gang of 20, which was seeking a bipartisan solution to the American energy crisis. The group pushed for a bill that would encourage state-by-state decisions on offshore drilling and authorize billions of dollars for conservation and alternative energy.[66]

He received a 14% progressive rating from Progressive Punch[67] And he scored a 73% conservative rating by the conservative group, SBE Council.[68] In contrast, Minnesota's other senator at the time, Democrat Mark Dayton, received a score of 90% progressive and 9% conservative by the same groups.[67][68]

Specific issues

Energy independence

Coleman was a strong supporter of bi-partisan efforts to create American independence from foreign sources of energy.[69] This included support for development of alternative sources of energy such as wind, ethanol, and biofuels.

In 2005, Coleman successfully led a bipartisan coalition of 34 Senators in securing a renewable fuels package as part of the 2005 Energy Policy Act, which included new standards for renewable fuels and an extension of tax credits for biodiesel, small ethanol producers and wind and livestock waste.

Coleman supported additional oil exploration in the outer continental shelf, but maintained a campaign promise to oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).[70]

On December 11, 2005, Coleman voted in favor of invoking cloture on, thus advancing, a defense appropriations bill that included oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Critics viewed this as a contradiction of 2002 pledge to oppose such drilling.[71] Coleman stated that he did so because although he planned to vote against the bill, he did not believe that a filibuster was warranted. His vote notwithstanding, the filibuster held, and Coleman voted to strip the ANWR provision from the bill in a subsequent vote.[72][73][74][75][76]

Coleman received a score of 33% for 2007 from the League of Conservation Voters,[77][78] in their view taking the pro-environment position in just five of fourteen cases.


As a member of the Senate's Agriculture Committee, Coleman played an important role in agriculture policy. In 2008, he helped author the Farm Bill. Coleman was praised for his efforts to improve the bill’s provisions with regard to sugar, which is a mainstay of northwestern Minnesota’s economy, as well as the bill’s dairy program.[79] Coleman also worked for the inclusion of a permanent agriculture disaster assistance program.[80]

Coleman also hailed the bill’s investments in conservation, nutrition, and renewable energy.[81]

Coleman also broke with his fellow Republicans in several instances over agriculture policy. He broke with fellow Republicans in voting for the bill to move forward[82] and ultimately played a critical role in breaking the stalemate that had delayed Senate consideration of the bill.[83]

Coleman voted twice to override President Bush’s veto of the Farm Bill.[84]

Picture of Coleman, President Bush, and others at DR-CAFTA signing

Coleman expressed reservations about supporting DR-CAFTA (Dominican Republic – Central America Free Trade Agreement) unless the interests of the domestic U.S. sugar industry (including Minnesota's sugar beet industry) were accommodated.[85][86][87] He voted in favor of DR-CAFTA after obtaining quotas imposed on foreign sugar until 2008. He stood behind President Bush on August 2, 2005, as the trade agreement was signed into law. "This is a 3 year insurance policy that I have purchased for my sugar farmers..." he said.[88]

Fiscal issues

Coleman was generally regarded as a fiscal centrist who supported increasing the minimum wage and safeguarding pensions while at the same time supporting broad tax relief and the line-item veto.

Coleman played an important role in the passage of the Pension Protection Act of 2006. In addition to safeguarding the pensions of all Americans, the legislation is credited with saving the pensions of over 24,000 Northwest Airlines employees and retirees in Minnesota.[89]

Coleman consistently voted to increase the minimum wage as Senator.[90]

Coleman had a consistent record of voting for broad tax reform. Coleman supported reductions to the capital gains tax, the marriage penalty, and supported the doubling of the child tax credit. Coleman also supported elimination of the AMT and death tax. Coleman supported efforts to make permanent the tax code enacted by the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003.[91]

As a member of the Small Business Committee, Coleman supported the Microloan program from elimination, supported funding for Small Business Development Centers and the HUBZone program, successfully extended tax relief for Section 179 expensing, and cosponsored an amendment to increase funding for the SBA by $130 million.[92]

Coleman is a long-time supporter of the line-item veto, calling it a "no-brainer, the right thing to do."[93]

Iraq, Iran, and Israel

From the start, Coleman was a strong supporter of the war in Iraq. In 2008, he was still a supporter of the war, and generally tended to agree with the positions of the Bush Administration on Iraq. He was in favor of the eventual removal of U.S. troops from Iraq, but did not believe in any kind of timetable for the removal of troops until the situation in Iraq became more stable. A Minneapolis Post article in August 2008 summarized his position as: "He believes the prospects are good for a drawdown of U.S. troops, but it must be done based on conditions on the ground as reported by commanders in the field, not according to an 'arbitrary' timetable set for 'political' reasons in Washington."[94]

Coleman is also outspoken about the threat posed by Iran to Western democracies. He sponsored numerous Congressional Resolutions aimed at Iran, including measures condemning Iran’s violations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and other Iranian violations its international obligations. Coleman also led an effort to bring worldwide pressure on Iran to stop their attempts to enrich uranium, which many believe is the final step in an effort for Iran to have offensive nuclear weapons capabilities.[95]

Coleman co-sponsored several pieces of legislation to increase sanctions on Iran, including supporting divestment of American pension funds in companies which do business with Iran, and sanctions against countries which provide nuclear technology to Iran. in 2007, Coleman was quoted saying "For the sake of our national security, the U.S. must ensure that the sensitive nuclear technology that we share with partner countries does not fall into the hands of the Iranians."[96]

Coleman is an outspoken defender of Israel. He was a co-sponsor of the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006[97] and sent a letter to then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urging her to investigate Egypt's smuggling of arms to Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip.[98]

Immigration reform

Coleman was a strong supporter of President Bush's attempts in 2006 and 2007 to pass comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. Senate, one of the few Republicans to do so despite the insistence of many in the GOP that it was "amnesty for illegal aliens".

Drug control

Coleman admitted to using marijuana as a youth, and critics have pointed out that while in college, Coleman advocated for the legalization of marijuana. As an adult, Coleman has said that maturity led him to understand that his own drug use was dangerous, and has repeatedly stated his opposition to legalized drugs, including marijuana.[6] Coleman is on record saying[when?]: "I oppose the legalization of marijuana because, as noted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, marijuana can have serious adverse health effects on individuals. The health problems that may occur from this highly addictive drug include short-term memory loss, anxiety, respiratory illness and a risk of lung cancer that far exceeds that of tobacco products. It would also make our transportation, schools and workplaces, just as examples, more dangerous."[99]

Social issues

Coleman has campaigned as a pro-life candidate since at least 1993.[100] Coleman attributes his position on abortion to the death of two of his four children in infancy from a rare genetic disease. He supports limiting stem cell research to adult stem cells and stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood, and, in July 2006, he voted against lifting restrictions on federal research dollars for new embryonic stem cell lines.[101][102] Coleman is a member of the Republican Main Street Partnership a group which supports Embryonic Stem Cell Research.[103] Coleman voted in favor of legislative intervention to prolong the life of severely brain-damaged Floridian Terri Schiavo.[104][105][106]

Coleman opposes recognition of same-sex marriages by either the federal or state governments.[107] In his 2002 Senate campaign, Coleman pledged support for an amendment to the United States Constitution that would ban any state from legalizing same sex marriage.[citation needed] In 2004 and in June 2006, he voted in favor of such an amendment.[108]

When he was mayor, Coleman refused to sign a city proclamation celebrating the annual gay pride festival, explaining his opposition: "What we have had in St. Paul and Minneapolis for many years is signing a joint proclamation making it gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender month. I will say that I support human rights... And of course that includes sexual orientation. On the other hand, I've felt very strongly that it wasn't government's responsibility to give proclamations for people's sexuality. I don't think government has a responsibility to issue awards for one's sexuality." [109][110] Coleman hired Susan Kimberly, a transwoman, to be his deputy mayor in 1998. Kimberly also worked as state legislative director in Coleman's Minnesota Senate office.[111]

Social Security

Coleman supported allowing workers to divert a portion of their Social Security contributions to the creation of individual accounts to be invested in the stock market, a variation of a general plan referred to by supporters as "personal accounts," referred to historically as "privatization."[112][113][114] He agreed with President Bush's statements that the contribution changes would apply to those younger than 55.[115] "The Social Security system for those folks 55 and over will not change in any way, shape or form—no ifs, ands, or buts," he said.

Relationship with the Bush administration

In 2002, the Bush Administration persuaded Coleman to run against Wellstone rather than try for the governorship.[116][117]

In December 2005, Coleman voted for a budget bill that cut funding from a number of programs, but kept funding for sugar beet farmers in Minnesota after Rove asked him to support the administration's position on the issue. Coleman told Congress Daily that he would not vote for a bill that cut sugar beet funding but "Karl Rove called me and asked what I wanted. A few hours later it was out of the bill."[118]

On March 14, 2006, Coleman called on President Bush to replace or reorganize his staff, stating that they did not sufficiently have their "ears to the ground" on matters like Hurricane Katrina, Harriet Miers' failed Supreme Court nomination, and the Dubai Ports World controversy and accusing the administration of having a "tin ear."[119] He stated that they showed inadequate "political sensitivity" in their handling of the issues.

On January 22, 2007, Coleman, along with fellow Republican Senators John Warner and Susan Collins, joined Democrats in opposition to President Bush's planned troop increase in Iraq.[120]

United Nations reform

Coleman worked relentlessly to root out corruption at the United Nations, targeting the so-called "oil-for-food" program.[121]

In May 2005, the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Coleman, held hearings on their investigation of abuses of the UN Oil-for-Food program, including oil smuggling, illegal kickbacks and use of surcharges, and Saddam Hussein's use of oil vouchers for the purpose of buying influence abroad. These Oil-for-Food Program Hearings covered corporations (including Bayoil) and several well-known political figures of various nations (including Vladimir Zhironovsky), but are much remembered for the confrontational appearance of British politician George Galloway, then a Member of Parliament for the RESPECT The Unity Coalition (Respect). Coleman accused Galloway of abuses, which Galloway forcefully denied.[122][123]

The previous year, Coleman had called for the UN's Secretary-general Kofi Annan to resign for other alleged program abuses. On June 2, 2006, Coleman responded to criticism that he had insufficiently investigated the Australian Wheat Board (AWB) for sanctions busting, saying that there were legal and cost hurdles.[124] The Prime Minister of Australia at the time, John Howard, was a supporter of the invasion of Iraq. The Australian ambassador to the U.S., Michael Thawley, met with Coleman in late 2004 to lobby against any investigation of AWB. [125][126]

Coleman was selected to be a delegate to the U.N. 61st General Assembly in New York, where he pressed for reform and action on Darfur and Iran.[127]

Government infrastructure

On February 10, 2006, in a meeting of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of which Coleman was a member, during testimony of former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director Michael D. Brown, Coleman attacked Brown for poor leadership during Hurricane Katrina disaster relief efforts, "you didn't provide the leadership, even with structural infirmities." Coleman went on, "you're not prepared to kind of put a mirror in front of your face and recognize your own inadequacies" and "the record reflects that you didn't get it or you didn't in writing or in some way make commands that would move people to do what has to be done until way after it should have been done."[128] Brown responded combatively, "well, Senator, that's very easy for you to say sitting behind that dais and not being there in the middle of that disaster, watching that human suffering and watching those people dying and trying to deal with those structural dysfunctionalities"[129] and implored Coleman to stick to questions.[130] He later likened Coleman's charges to a "drive-by shooting."[131] Brown had recently stated that he notified Department of Homeland Security and the White House of the tremendous scale of Katrina flooding earlier than had been previously reported.[132]

On March 14, 2006, Coleman introduced a bill that would ban foreign companies from operating ports in the United States.[133]

In March 2007, Coleman introduced legislation (S. 754[134]) to kill the Defense Travel System,[135] a program intended to automate the purchasing of travel services by the U.S. Department of Defense, which accounts for more than half of the federal government's total outlays of around $11 billion annually for travel, including transportation, lodging, and rental cars. Shortly after he filed the legislation, Coleman received a generous contribution from the CEO of Carlson Companies, which owns Carlson Wagonlit Travel, a business travel management firm whose CW Government Travel unit provides travel management services for some federal agencies. The Carlson Companies is based in Minnesota. Over the years, Coleman has received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from people connected with Carlson Companies.[136]

Personal life

Norm Coleman with his wife Laurie

Coleman married actress Laurie Coleman[137] (née Casserly) in 1981. They have two children, Jacob and Sarah. Two other children died during infancy (Adam, 1983; Grace, 1992) from a rare genetic disorder known as Zellweger syndrome.[59]

Coleman is a member of the Freemason fraternity, having been made a Mason at sight in 2003 by then Grand Master of Masons in Minnesota, Neil Neddermeyer.[138]

Coleman currently serves on the America Abroad Media advisory board.[139]

On September 11, 2009, Coleman announced he had been diagnosed with Bell's Palsy. Doctors told him that he should fully recover from it.[140]

In 2016, Coleman's son Jacob announced his candidacy for an open State Senate seat held by Julianne Ortman. He did not win the Republican endorsement and chose to support the endorsed candidate.

Electoral history

2008 Minnesota U.S. Senate Election[19][141][142]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
DFL Al Franken 1,212,629 41.991 % -5.35 %
Republican Norm Coleman 1,212,317 41.984 % -7.55 %
Independence Dean Barkley 437,505 15.153 % +13.15 %
Libertarian Charles Aldrich 13,923 0.482 % n/a
Constitution James Niemackl 8,907 0.308 % +0.21 %
Write-ins 2,365 0.082 %
Margin of victory 312 0.007%
Turnout 2,887,337 100% +28 %

2002 Minnesota U.S. Senate Election[143]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Norm Coleman 1,116,697 49.53% +8.25%
DFL Walter Mondale 1,067,246 47.34% -2.98%
Independence Jim Moore 45,139 2.00% -4.98%
DFL Paul Wellstone 11,381 0.50%
Green Ray Tricomo 10,119 0.45%
Minnesota Gubernatorial Election 1998[144]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Reform Jesse Ventura 768,356 37
Republican Norm Coleman 713,410 34
DFL Hubert Humphrey III 581,497 28
St. Paul Mayoral Election 1997
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Norm Coleman 58.7
DFL Sandy Pappas 40.8
St. Paul Mayoral Election 1993
Party Candidate Votes % ±
DFL Norm Coleman 54.7
DFL Andy Dawkins 44.3


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External links

Political offices
Preceded by
James Scheibel
Mayor of St. Paul
Succeeded by
Randy Kelly
Party political offices
Preceded by
Arne Carlson
Republican nominee for Governor of Minnesota
Succeeded by
Tim Pawlenty
Preceded by
Rudy Boschwitz
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Minnesota
(Class 2)

2002, 2008
Succeeded by
Mike McFadden
United States Senate
Preceded by
Dean Barkley
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Minnesota
Served alongside: Mark Dayton, Amy Klobuchar
Succeeded by
Al Franken