New blood

Minnesota governor selects Tina Smith to fill Senate seat being vacated by Al Franken

Minnesota Lt. Governor Tina Smith fields questions after being named the replacement to Sen. Al Franken by Governor Mark Dayton on December 13, 2017 at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith of Minnesota will replace Al Franken in the United States Senate. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton on Wednesday appointed Smith to fill the seat being vacated by Franken, after he resigned last week amid a sexual harassment scandal. It’s not clear when she will officially take over Franken’s seat, as he said he planned to resign “in the coming weeks,” but when she does, she will serve at least until November 2018 when a special election will be held to fill the seat for the remainder of Franken’s term, which goes through 2020. Smith is expected to run for the seat in the 2018 election.

At the press conference where Dayton made the announcement, Smith said, “I will run in that election and I will do my best to earn Minnesotans’ support.” She added, “I can tell you I shouldn’t be underestimated and if I weren’t confident, I wouldn’t be doing this.”

Smith, a 59-year-old Democrat, has been seen as one of Dayton’s most trusted advisers. Prior to becoming Dayton’s running mate in 2014, she served as his chief of staff for four years. In the past, she’s managed several political campaigns and has strong feminist credentials. For about three years, Smith worked as the vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota.

She left Planned Parenthood in 2006 and took over as chief of staff for then-Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, but left her mark. “She’s got a pretty strong legacy around here,” Sarah Stoesz, the organization’s president and CEO, told The Minneapolis Star-Tribune in 2015. Below, watch a clip from the press conference and Smith discussing what her agenda will look like as a senator.

Read the full story at The Associated Press.

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