Minnesota Governor Picks Tina Smith to Fill Al Franken’s Senate Seat

Tina Smith Mark Dayton
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Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has appointed Tina Smith, his lieutenant governor, to fill Al Franken’s Senate seat after he steps down following allegations of sexual misconduct.

Smith, a Democrat, will serve at least until January, 2019. The state will hold a special election in November to fill the seat, and she told reporters that she planned to run in that race.

“Though I never anticipated this moment,” Smith told reporters, “I am resolved to do everything I can to move Minnesota forward, and I will be a fierce advocate in the United States Senate for the economic opportunity and fairness.”

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.” She added, “I will do this in my own way using my own best judgment and experience, but always with people of Minnesota in mind.”

Smith was widely viewed as Dayton’s preference to fill the seat.

Franken announced on Dec. 7 that he planned to resign as he faced allegations of sexual misconduct. One woman, Leeann Tweeden, said Franken forcibly kissed her as they were on a USO Tour in 2006, and shared a photo during that trip in which she is sleeping and Franken appeared ready to grab her breasts.

In his speech on the Senate floor, he said that he recalled some of the women’s version of events differently, and hoped that a Senate Ethics Committee would have had time to investigate the claims. But more than two dozen Democrats called for him to step down as more women came forward.

Minnesota’s other senator, Amy Klobuchar, also a Democrat, faces reelection next November as well. Some Republicans are talking about the possibility of former governor Tim Pawlenty running for Franken’s seat.