The slow recount in the Minnesota Senate contest has proceeded with relative grace, in stark contrast to the 2000 Bush v. Gore debacle in Florida. Republican Senator
‘s ridiculous suggestion that Democratic challenger
concede one of the closest Senate races in history was dismissed by every serious observer–for good reason, as it turns out. The reconciliation of preliminary counts and the manual recounting of 2.9 million ballots has narrowed Coleman’s lead from more than 700 votes to around 170–with thousands of ballots yet to be reviewed.
Much credit for the smooth functioning of the recount goes to Minnesota Secretary of State
, a reformer elected in 2006 on a promise to promote high voter turnout and election integrity. Ritchie, a member of Franken’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, has been attacked by TV ranters such as
as part of a national conservative strategy to discredit the recount. But in Minnesota he’s earning high marks. The
, which backed Coleman, editorialized, “Despite a fog of innuendo and misinformation, every preliminary step taken to date by this state’s election administrators appears sound. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie deserves a nod of confidence from this state as the recount begins.” The
was blunter. After Coleman backers attacked Ritchie, the newspaper editorialized, “These folks just need to button their lips and let the recount officials do their jobs.” JOHN NICHOLS
Environmental activist, author and social entrepreneur
is the 2008 recipient of the $100,000
Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship
. A champion for the toughest urban constituencies and causes, Jones is the founder and president of
Green For All
, a national advocacy organization based in Oakland, California, committed to building an inclusive, green economy to lift millions of people out of poverty. He is also the author of the New York Times bestseller
The Green Collar Economy
(Harper One), an adaptation of which was the cover story of the November 17 issue of The Nation. Jones will receive the award at
The Nation Institute
‘s Annual Dinner Gala in New York City on December 8.
In 2007 Jones helped the city of Oakland pass a Green Jobs Corps proposal, which allocated funds to train residents in eco-friendly “green-collar” jobs. Last year he worked successfully with House Speaker
to pass the Green Jobs Act of 2007. This pathbreaking legislation authorized $125 million to train 35,000 people a year in such jobs.
Jones is also co-founder of the
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
. The former advocates for juvenile justice reform, police reform, youth violence prevention and green- collar jobs. With 400,000 members, ColorofChange has become one of the nation’s most prominent online advocacy organizations focusing on African-American issues. Jones is also a senior fellow with the
Center for American Progress