I was talking to a reporter this morning about how Norm Coleman's popularity with Minnesota voters was hurt by his drawing out the recount in his Senate race and how that had the potential to hurt him in a future electoral contest. I hadn't thought about it until then but we actually have a pretty recent example of this happening in North Carolina politics.
In 2004 June Atkinson beat Bill Fletcher by two tenths of a point in a closely contested race for Superintendent of Public Instruction. Fletcher's challenge to the results lasted so long that Atkinson wasn't sworn in until August.
While Fletcher was constantly in the news with his court battle he was also continuing to serve in his position on the Wake County School Board, for which he had to stand for reelection in October 2005, just two months after his statewide race was finally resolved.
Though Fletcher had been reelected with 69% of the vote in 2001, in 2005 he finished last in a third candidate field with only 21%. How much of that very weak performance can be attributed to his actions in the Superintendent race is certainly up for debate but while potential recriminations for Coleman because of his recount behavior down the line are still theoretical, the Fletcher example shows us how this played out in a real instance. It will be interesting to see if it plays out similarly in Minnesota.