The people have spoken, and Popcorn is America's turkey.
President Obama officially pardoned the Minnesota-born bird Wednesday afternoon. Popcorn edged out flockmate Caramel in a popularity contest, after the White House turned the job of choosing the official National Thanksgiving Turkey over to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
"The office of the presidency -- the most powerful position in the world -- brings with it many awesome and solemn responsibilities. This is not one of them," joked the president, who was joined by daughters Sasha and Malia for the annual rite. "Generally speaking, Thanksgiving is a bad day to be a turkey. Especially at a house with two dogs. So I salute our two guests of honor -- Caramel and Popcorn -- for their bravery."
The people had spoken -- for #TeamCaramel or #TeamPopcorn -- and Popcorn, a splendid white puffball, carried the day.
"The competition was stiff, but we can officially declare that Popcorn is the winner -- proving that even a turkey with a funny name can find a place in politics," Obama said. "As for Caramel, he’s sticking around, and he’s already busy raising money for his next campaign."
Caramel may have lost the popularity contest, but he won a pardon anyway. The big birds will spend the rest of the holidays at George Washington's home, on display as part of the annual Christmas at Mount Vernon celebration. Then they'll retire to Morven Park’s Turkey Hill Farm in Leesburg, Va.
John Burkel of Badger, Minn., chairman of thee National Turkey Federation, raised Caramel, Popcorn and Minnesota's official Thanksgiving turkey (who ended up in a St. Paul Salvation Army kitchen.) The birds' names were chose by Roseau County schoolchildren and a group of Badger High School students joined Burkel at the White House Wednesday.
As Obama pardoned the birds, he announced that two replacement turkeys, already dressed, would be donated to a nearby Washington, D.C., food shelf.
"Popcorn, you have a full reprieve from cranberry sauce and stuffing. We wish you well," he said. "And we’re going to give Carmel a break as well."
The recounts are over the state has certified the winners in the last two disputed Legislative races in Minnesota.
Democrat Kevin L. Dahle won the state Senate District 20 election, the state canvassing board concluded Tuesday. The board also certified that incumbent state Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, won reelection in state House District 8B.
Both races were decided by mere handfuls of votes. Dahle edged out Republican candidate Mike Dudley by 71 votes out of more than 41,000 cast. During the recount, Dudley picked up six more votes and Dahle lost one.
The final vote tally in Senate District 20 was 20,627 votes for Dahle and 20,556 for Dudley.
On election night, Franson led Democratic challenger Bob Cunniff by just one vote. She picked up 10 more after a judge ordered election officials to discard 35 ballots as a result of a polling place error. During the recount, Franson picked up two more votes and Cunniff picked up one.
The final vote in House District 8B was 10,642 votes for Franson and 10,630 for Cunniff.
Under Minnesota law, any election decided by a margin of less than one-half of one percent triggers a recount at taxpayer expense. Neither race affects the balance of power in the state Legislature. Democrats have won majorities in both houses.
The recount is over in House District 8B, leaving state Rep. Mary Franson with a 12-vote lead over her Democratic challenger Bob Cunniff.
Franson, a freshman Republican from Alexandria, picked up one extra vote Thursday when Otter Tail County recounted its ballots. In the end, Franson had 4,799 votes in Otter Tail to Cunniff's 3,790 votes.
Cunniff's attorneys are challenging four of the ballots in Otter Tail County, and the campaigns also challenged one vote each in Douglas. But the combined challenges wouldn't be enough to hand Cunniff the win in the state's closest election of 2012.
Franson led by 11 votes Wednesday, after her home county of Douglas wrapped up its recount. She won by the election by a single vote, but picked up 10 more after a court ordered Douglas County to discard dozens of ballots after a polling place error.
The recount results are unofficial until the state canvassing board meets on Dec. 4 at 1:30 p.m. There is also always a possiblity of a court challenge to the election results.
State Rep. Mary Franson's one-vote election lead is now an 11-vote lead.
The Douglas County board of canvassers discarded 35 randomly chosen ballots Wednesday afternoon to make up for ballots that were mistakenly cast in the District 8B race by residents of neighboring House District 12B. All the errors were found in precincts shared by both districts.
Franson, a House freshman, won by a single vote over her Democratic challenger, Bob Cunniff. Her attorneys petitioned a Douglas County district court to have the votes discarded to compensate for the ballot error.
Cunniff's attorneys argued against tossing the ballots out, questioning whether the situation at the Alexandria precincts met the criteria for pulling ballots. They also argued that discarding random ballots would likely disenfranchise dozens of 8B residents who did nothing wrong on Election Day.
A Douglas County judge ruled in Franson's favor Tuesday, clearing the way for the board of canvassers to begin work.
The extra votes for Franson won't change the plans for the full recount that's scheduled to begin next week. The state canvassing board will meet Tuesday, Nov. 27, and the district recount is set to begin on Nov. 28 and continue until Thursday or Friday.