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 FrankenHarrison seen as front-runner to take over DNC at crucial moment The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump, Biden clash over transition holdup, pandemic plans The Hill's Morning Report - Fearing defeat, Trump claims 'illegal' ballots 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.


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 TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call 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 EllisonMinnesota bar vows to stay open despite lawsuit, ban on indoor dining More than 150 Minnesota businesses vow to defy governor's shutdown order Progressives rally around Turner's House bid 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 KlobucharSunday shows preview: All eyes on Biden administration to tackle coronavirus Do Democrats really want unity? Democrats seek answers on impact of Russian cyberattack on Justice Department, Courts MORE (D-Minn.) is also up for reelection in November.