Minnesota lieutenant governor to replace Franken, run for seat in 2018

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) on Wednesday named Lt. Gov. Tina Smith (D) to fill Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenThe Hill's Morning Report - What is Trump's next move on Iran? The Memo: Times correction gives GOP lifeline in latest Kavanaugh controversy Politicon announces lineup including Comey, Hannity, Priebus MORE’s (D) soon-to-be vacated Senate seat.

Smith said she intends to run in November 2018 to complete the remaining two years of Franken’s term. 

“It is up to Minnesotans to decide who they want to complete Senator Franken’s term. I will run in that election, and I will do my best to earn Minnesotans support. And I believe the way to do that is to be the best senator I can be,” Smith said.

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Franken announced his resignation last week in the wake of accusations that he groped and kissed women without their consent. He did not, however, set a date for his departure from the Senate, saying only that he would leave “in the coming weeks.” 

Smith on Wednesday said she’s spoken with Franken and his staff and expects he will officially step down some time in early January.

She said Franken “has been a champion” for Minnesota, adding that “he will continue to work” for the state and country. 

In his speech, Franken noted the "irony" that he is resigning while President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness, ballots and battling opioids: Why the Universal Postal Union benefits the US Sanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth MORE, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by a number of women, remains in office.

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.” 

“Sexual harassment is disrespectful to people, and it can’t be tolerated. We are in the middle of sort of a sea change of attitudes right now,” she said.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee blasted the pick, calling Smith a “political operative committed to raising taxes.”

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Wednesday that Rep. Keith EllisonKeith Maurice EllisonJudge threatens to put prison officials in same uncooled cells as inmates Minnesota students file federal lawsuit against school district alleging 'deliberate indifference' to racist incidents Former Sanders aides launch consulting firm MORE (D-Minn.) won’t run for the Senate in 2018, eliminating a potential primary opponent for Smith. 

"Tina Smith is the right person at the right time and has my full support both now and when she runs in the 2018 special election,” Ellison said in a statement.

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharObama, Bush among those paying tribute to Cokie Roberts: 'A trailblazing figure' Kamala Harris calls for new investigation into Kavanaugh allegations Overnight Energy: Top presidential candidates to skip second climate forum | Group sues for info on 'attempts to politicize' NOAA | Trump allows use of oil reserve after Saudi attacks MORE (D-Minn.) is also up for reelection in November.