Franken rules out challenge against Gillibrand for Senate seat
Former Minnesota Sen. Al Franken (D) says he will not mount a challenge against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to represent New York in the U.S. Senate.
Alexandra Fetissoff, a spokeswoman for Franken, told Politico that while the former senator misses the upper chamber, he does not plan to challenge Gillibrand, who called for his resignation in January 2018 over accusations of sexual misconduct.
She first told Politico that Franken “has no intention of running for Senate,” then followed-up with a narrower statement that said “Yes, I miss the Senate but I’m not going to run against Kirsten Gillibrand.”
Speculation swirled regarding a potential political comeback for Franken after he told Massachusetts-based newspaper The Republican last month that he is “keeping my options open” on whether or not to wage another bid for public office.
Franken resigned from the Senate in December 2017 after being accused of sexual misconduct by eight women, and after a photo of him groping a woman who was asleep was published.
The senator faced mounting pressure to resign, especially from Gillibrand. Nonetheless, he said that the allegations against him were untrue and contended that he recalled some instances differently.
Franken in July 2019 said he “absolutely” regretted resigning from the Senate, after The New Yorker conducted a deep dive into the accusations. Seven current or former senators who called for his resignation at the time told the magazine that they regretted doing so.
Sources close to Franken told Politico that he is still angry about how Gillibrand urged him to resign amid the accusations.
Franken is now on tour for his comedy show “The Only Former U.S. Senator Currently on Tour Tour,” which has stops scheduled until December.
Politico noted that while the former senator often invokes his ex-colleagues as the punchlines for jokes, he has not discussed Gillibrand.
The New York senator has served in the upper chamber since 2009, when she filled Hillary Clinton’s seat after her nomination to be secretary of State.
Gillibrand has not faced a competitive primary race during her tenure in the Senate. She is up for reelection in 2024.
She ran an unsuccessful bid for president in 2020, but dropped out months before any votes were cast in the primary amid low polling numbers.
The senator told Politico in May that she is “definitely” considering another run for the White House.
The Hill reached out to Franken’s spokeswoman for more information, and to Gillibrand for comment.
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