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Tracking Minnesota’s political scene and keeping you up-to-date on those elected to serve you

Sen. Franken gets a Trump chia, Klobuchar gets a moose mug in Senate gift exchange

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Al Franken gave a Georgia Republican senator one of his personalized freehand maps for Christmas and Sen. Amy Klobuchar gave a Texas Republican some Minnesota (corn) vodka and a couple of Cuban cigars.

As members wrap votes this week and head home for the holidays, Franken's Senate Santa gift exchange had 59 percent participation (in that, 59 senators participated) in exchanging gifts -- in a mostly bipartisan fashion.

"This is something we used to do at my elementary school back in St. Louis Park," Franken said, in a statement. "So I thought I'd bring the same thing to the Senate, Ever since I started hosting this event, it's done exactly what it is supposed to do: create comity and good cheer in an institution badly in need of both."

Klobuchar's prairie vodka and cigar gift went to Texas senior Sen. John Cornyn -- and there was a political message attached.

"I told him they (the cigars) may be collector items if Donald Trump reverses Obama's order," she said, referring to Cuba.

In exchange, Klobuchar received a moose coffee mug from Maine Sen. Angus King. From West Virginia Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, Franken received a Trump chia pet. 

He didn't say where it would go.

Photo: Perisha Gates, U.S. Senate

Two recounts confirm wins for Republicans elected to Minnesota Senate

The initial election outcome in a St. Cloud-area Senate race will stand after a recount and Republican Jerry Relph will join fellow GOPers in the Capitol next year, according to unofficial election results.

After a few days of re-counting ballots, officials concluded Relph won 17,519 votes, besting DFLer Dan Wolgamott by just 141 votes -- 7 fewer than the original election results.

Wolgamott picked up 6 votes in the recount while Relph lost one. Wolgamott lost the open seat by less than a half one percent. The seat was left vacant by state Sen. John Pederson, R-St. Cloud, who retired after two terms.

A previous recount in a Minnetonka-area Senate seat also confirmed the results showing Republican Paul Anderson besting Deb Calvert for the seat vacated by state Sen. Terri Bonoff who ran for Congress.

"Now that the recounts are complete and the final numbers are in, Senate Republicans are ready to focus on the important work of addressing the healthcare crisis and growing jobs in Minnesota," said incoming Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, in a statement.

Results will not be official until the State Canvassing Board meets next week to allocate the challenged ballots and certify the results, according to a spokesman for Secretary of State Steve Simon.