What We Know about Al Franken's Replacement

What We Know about Al Franken's Replacement

What We Know about Al Franken's Replacement

Gov. Mark Dayton has chosen Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to fill Franken's seat until the November election, and she will run in that election to complete the final two years of Franken's term.

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A Democratic source confirmed the news to the Associated Press.

"Minnesota is going to be the epicenter of politics next year", Ken Martin, chairman of the state's Democratic Party, said Wednesday. Two other top gubernatorial candidates, Rep. Erin Murphy and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, both applauded Smith's appointment on Wednesday.

Minnesota's next senator, Tina Smith, could face a clear path to the 2018 unexpected general election, with support pouring in from almost every corner of the state's Democratic party and a top potential primary challenger announcing he won't run against her.

Franken announced last week his intention to resign after allegations of improper conduct toward more than half a dozen women. Al Franken, D-Minn., speaks on the Senate floor of the Capitol in Washington, Dec. 7, 2017.

Smith's appointment was widely expected soon after Franken, announced last week that he would step down.

Franken, in a statement, praised Smith as "a dedicated public servant who's worked tirelessly on behalf of Minnesotans" and who "will make an excellent United States senator". "And I believe the way to do that is to be the best senator I can be", Smith said. "I look forward to working with her on ensuring a speedy and seamless transition", his statement read.

But in Minnesota, some Democrats anxious giving a candidate a head start on a campaign would upset liberal voters and encourage a primary challenge - a costly hurdle given the 10-month sprint to Election Day.

Minnesota state law stipulates that in the event of a vacancy in the U.S. Senate, a special election "shall be held at the next November election if the vacancy occurs at least 11 weeks before the regular state primary preceding that election".

During his speech last week, he appeared to hint that his replacement would be a woman.

She said that "just over three years ago, we re-elected Senator Franken with a mandate to work hard to keep Minnesota moving forward to improve people's lives".

When asked for her opinion about the recent calls from some Democratic senators for Trump to resign in the face of sexual misconduct allegations, Smith dodged the question, saying she's "not going to get into... what's going on in Washington right now".

Republicans said Dayton's selection of Smith for the seat could upset voters. He said he hopes his decision wards off other Democrats from challenging Smith, calling on his supporters to back her as well.

"Sexual harassment is disrespectful to people, and it can't be tolerated".

Smith, 59, a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, moved to Minnesota in 1984 after earning an undergraduate degree at Stanford and an MBA from Dartmouth to take a job in marketing for General Mills. Their close relationship helped her turn the historically undemanding post of lieutenant governor into something more substantive when Dayton's first lieutenant governor chose not to run with him for a second term.

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