Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith Likely Pick To Replace Franken

By on December 7, 2017
Tina Smith

The Minneapolis Star Tribune is reporting that Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, will likely appoint Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to serve in Al Franken’s seat upon his resignation from the Senate. Franken announced that he would resign his seat “in the coming weeks” after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced from a number of different women.

“I feel in this environment, and given what’s happening … a woman would be very appropriate,” said Minnesota state Rep. Frank Hornstein in an interview with the Star Tribune.

Sources close to the situation also report that Smith won’t run for Franken’s seat herself in 2018, which will pave the way for a wide open Democratic primary. The Star Tribune speculated about other big-name Democrats that might try to run for Franken’s seat in 2018:

Meanwhile, a variety of party big names would likely consider running for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Franken: U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who would be the state’s first black senator; two other U.S. representatives, Rep. Betty McCollum and Rep. Rick Nolan; or state Rep. Ilhan Omar, who would become the Senate’s first Somali-American member. Several current candidates for governor might also reconsider and run for Franken’s seat, including U.S. Rep. Tim Walz or St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. Attorney General Lori Swanson, also widely believed to be considering a run for governor, could run for the Senate instead.

Republicans will also mount a challenge, but given the state’s leanings in recent years, it’s likely Minnesota will still go blue — even with Franken having to step down.

Democrats will need to preserve the seat if they want any hope of winning a Senate majority in the 2018 midterm elections. With Alabama in play and the GOP’s reputation in tatters after throwing in with an alleged child molester, the party has a golden opportunity to make up ground…but Minnesota wasn’t one of the places it had expected to be in play.