Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith will replace departing Sen. Al Franken, who is actually set to resign following sexual misconduct accusations, the state’s governor, Mark Dayton, announced Wednesday.
Last week, Franken announced his plan to step down within the “coming weeks” as most of the Senate Democratic caucus pushed him to resign.
Dayton said he will appoint Smith, 59, to serve until January 2019. She will have to compete in a special election for the seat next November. If she wins of which race, she would certainly then have to run again in 2020, when Franken would certainly have faced re-election.
After some questions about whether she would certainly run in of which special election next year, Smith committed to doing so on Wednesday.
“I accept This kind of appointment, along with also of which will be my great honor to serve Minnesota as United States Senator,” Smith said in a statement released by Dayton’s office. “Though I never anticipated This kind of moment, I am resolved to do everything I can to move Minnesota forward. I will be a fierce advocate within the United States Senate for economic opportunity along with also fairness for all Minnesotans.”
Smith has been Minnesota’s lieutenant governor since 2015, according to the state’s website. She was previously Dayton’s chief of staff.
Smith has taken a visible role as a proponent of Dayton’s agenda within the state, according to the Star Tribune. She declined to run for governor next year, when Dayton will not seek re-election.
In a statement Wednesday, Dayton called Smith “a person of the highest integrity along with also ability.” He highlighted her role in expanding paid parental leave in Minnesota, fighting against wage theft, battling the opioid crisis along with also advocating for clean energy.
Smith also has pushed for expanding rural broadband access along with also access to early childhood learning, according to Minnesota’s website.
In a statement Wednesday, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn. — a prominent member of the party’s liberal wing — signaled of which he would certainly not challenge Smith for the Senate seat next year.
“Tina Smith is actually the right person at the right time along with also has my full support both currently along with also when she runs within the 2018 special election,” Ellison said
Republicans likely see opportunity in Minnesota next year. Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar will also have to defend her seat.
Hillary Clinton beat President Donald Trump by only 1 percent within the state in last year’s presidential election.