Alabama Democrat (!) Doug Jones won’t be the only new face on Capitol Hill this winter. Last week, Minnesota junior senator and former SNL writer/cast member Al Franken announced that he’d soon resign from the U.S. Senate after allegations of sexual misconduct toward eight women came to light. (Franken delivered a sorry-not-sorry resignation speech, pointing out that he was quitting “while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office.”)
But that’s all in the past; let’s look to the future. Speculation has been running wild, at least in Minnesota political circles, about who would replace Franken in the Senate. State law allows for the governor to pick Franken’s replacement in advance of a special election. Who would Gov. Mark Dayton appoint? As he’s a Democrat, and voters elected the democratic Franken to serve, probably a Democrat.
That rumor has been confirmed. On Wednesday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minnesota’s biggest newspaper, reported that Dayton has named the state’s lieutenant governor, Tina Smith, to represent Minnesota in the U.S. Senate.
“Tina Smith is a person of the highest integrity and ability,” Dayton said via an official statement. “There is no one I trust more to assume the responsibilities of this important office. I know that she will be a superb Senator, representing the best interests of our state and our citizens.”
Smith has a solid political background that well prepares her for the Senate. She served as Dayton’s chief of staff in 2010 before her promotion to second-in-command of Minnesota in 2015. She’ll be a senator at least until next year, at which point a special election will be held for someone to serve the remainder of Franken’s term, which ends in 2020. Smith has already promised to run in that election.
“Though I never anticipated this moment, I am resolved to do everything I can to move Minnesota forward,” Smith said. “I will be a fierce advocate in the United States Senate for economic opportunity and fairness for all Minnesotans.”
Minnesota is now part of a very cool and unfortunately very small club: The Two Female Senators Club. Other states with two women in the country’s highest legislative chamber: California, Washington, and New Hampshire.
Smith’s colleagues and supporters wished her well on social media.
Congratulations to friend Tina Smith who will be appointed U.S. Senator from Minnesota @tinaflintsmith
This will be the first time in history Minnesota has had two female senators.
— Adam Parkhomenko (@AdamParkhomenko) December 13, 2017
Lt. Gov. @tinaflintsmith is an outstanding choice to be Minnesota’s next United States Senator. I have worked with Tina for years — she is a good friend, an incredibly hard worker & a woman who is totally committed to our state. https://t.co/NiMp8GbTNI
— Rep. Betty McCollum (@BettyMcCollum04) December 13, 2017
Congratulations to my friend @tinaflintsmith on her appointment to the U.S. Senate. Tina is a progressive champion who will be an extraordinary senator for the people of Minnesota. She has my full support both now and when she runs in the 2018 special election.
— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) December 13, 2017
I know Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to be a true public servant. She will be a fierce champion for all Minnesotans and I look forward to working with her in Congress in the coming year.
— Rep. Tim Walz (@RepTimWalz) December 13, 2017
Tina Smith, Lt. Governor of Minnesota, is expected to replace Al Franken in the Senate.
If America needs anything right now, it needs more women in positions of leadership.
We need women, and people of color, to storm the House in 2018.
Equal representation is in reach
— Ahmed Baba (@AhmedBaba_) December 7, 2017
Tina Smith is:
✅ The second woman senator from Minnesota
✅ A former Planned Parenthood VP!!!
✅ A mom
✅ A Dartmouth Tuck alum 💚
✅ Described as "a true public servant"
Looking forward to having another strong woman in the Senate. https://t.co/8nbqcvGCFz
— Emmy Bengtson (@EmmyA2) December 13, 2017
Tina Smith is likely the best boss I will ever have. I cannot say enough about her character and leadership. Minnesota is lucky today.
— Sam McCullough (@McCulloughSam) December 13, 2017
Reporter asks Gov. Dayton whether he's uneasy about being a “kingmaker” by appointing Tina Smith.
— Ella Nilsen (@ella_nilsen) December 13, 2017