Minnesota's Lone Senator Works Overtime

Amy Klobuchar, at right, with constituents
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, right, talks with constituents at a weekly coffee klatch. The senator has had to serve solo for nearly six months as the election dispute between incumbent Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat and former comedian Al Franken drags on.

Minnesota's solo senator in Washington has been doing double duty for more than five months now, while the election dispute between Al Franken and Norm Coleman drags on. And the overtime won't be ending anytime soon, as CBS News correspondent Thalia Assuras reports.

Minnesota's Amy Klobuchar may be the most popular senator on Capitol Hill. She draws an overflow crowd of constituents at her weekly coffee klatch. But there's a reason the turnout now doubles that of last year - she's the state's only senator.

"I'm a mom like your mom; I can juggle a lot of things," the senator told a fourth-grade girl at one of the recent events.

"I'm the senior and the junior senator. I'm both at the same time," said Klobuchar, a freshman elected in 2006.

That's because almost six months after the election for the other senate seat, the contest between incumbent Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat and former comedian Al Franken is still in dispute.

Following a statewide recount and trial, a Minnesota court declared Franken the winner by 312 votes. But Coleman is appealing to the state's Supreme Court, arguing that rejected absentee ballots should be tallied.

"There are 4,500 Minnesotans who have a right to have their votes counted," Coleman said. "Let them be counted."

Right now, they can only count on Klobuchar. Her Washington office gets five times as many phone calls than as it used to.

"You can have as many as 10 callers on hold and as soon as a free line opens up, they pop into that new line," said Greg Bohrer, a staffer in Klobuchar's Washington office.

Many of the calls are "People saying, 'I can't find my Social Security check' or 'The Veterans Administration won't explain why my benefits have changed,'" Klobuchar said. "These are people with real problems, especially when the economy is so difficult."

Klobuchar's schedule of meetings now numbers up to 17 a day. She says she survives on five hours of sleep a night - And apparently does so with plenty of good humor.

There are some advantages to being a single senator, she said. "For one thing, there's not a lot of bickering in our delegation. You know, 'How are you going to vote?' 'Oh, I'm voting the same way'!"

As for when she'll finally have a partner to work with - it's going to be a while. The Franken-Coleman case doesn't go back to court until June.