Sen. Al Franken (D) announced Thursday that he is resigning in the “coming weeks,” amid a series of sexual harassment allegations he is facing.
“This decision is not about me—it’s about the people of Minnesota,” Franken said in a Senate floor speech. “I may be resigning my seat, but I am not giving up my voice.”
Franken added that Minnesota deserves a senator who can serve the state’s needs with all “her” energy.
Also in his speech, Franken said he was “shocked” and “upset” when the allegations against him were revealed, maintaining that some are “simply not true.”
“Others I remember very differently,” he said.
NEXT STEPS. Lt. Gov. Tina Smith (D) is viewed as Gov. Mark Dayton’s (D) likely choice to replace Franken.
“Under that scenario, Smith would serve as a temporary replacement who would not run for the seat in a November 2018 special election.”
“If he taps Smith as a caretaker senator, Dayton would be giving the job to someone who apparently has no further political ambitions. … Dayton is being widely advised to select a woman, given the circumstances of Franken’s departure.”
Potential Democratic candidates include Reps. Keith Ellison (D-05), Betty McCollum (D-04), and Rick Nolan (D-08), as well as state Rep. Ilhan Omar (D). “Several current candidates for governor might also reconsider and run for Franken’s seat, including” Rep. Tim Walz (D-01) or St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman (D). Attorney General Lori Swanson (D), also widely believed to be considering a run for governor, could run for the Senate instead.”
On the GOP side, former Sen. Norm Coleman (R), whom Franken narrowly defeated in 2008, could run. Reps. Tom Emmer (R-06) and Erik Paulsen (R-03) are other possibilities, as are state Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R) and state House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R). (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Other names to watch on the Republican side include former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-06) and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R). (CNN)
State Rep. Jim Newberger (R), who is currently challenging Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D), could also hop over to the race. And 2016 MN-08 nominee Stewart Mills (R) said he would “more than kick the tires” on a Senate bid if Franken steps down. (The Hill)
BEHIND THE SCENES. On Wednesday evening, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on Franken to resign.
“Mr. Schumer quietly worked through the day to urge Mr. Franken to step aside. According to a person familiar with the conversations, Mr. Schumer called Mr. Franken before any of his fellow senators went public with their resignation calls and later met with Mr. Franken and his wife in Mr. Schumer’s Washington apartment.” (New York Times)
“Some of the senators said that they decided to act Wednesday morning after Politico reported that a former Democratic congressional aide alleged that Franken tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006, before he became senator.”
“I think it’s just been building,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said. “I think having another woman come forward just emphasizes how serious this is.” (National Journal)
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