Senator Al Franken announced his resignation from the U.S. Senate Thursday, December 7 after three weeks of sexual misconduct allegations made against him and growing calls from his Democratic colleagues to step down.
Franken’s speech was in parts reflective and defiant. “Over the last few weeks, a number of women have come forward to talk about how they felt my actions had affected them. I was shocked. I was upset. But in responding to their claims, I also wanted to be respectful of that broader conversation, because all women deserve to be heard, and their experiences taken seriously.
“I also think it gave some people the false impression that I was admitting to doing things that, in fact, I haven’t done. Some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others, I remember very differently.”
Franken stated that ultimately, he was resigning his Senate seat “in the coming weeks” because he could no longer be effective in serving.
“I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party,” said Franken in reference to President Trump’s infamous Access Hollywood tape, and the RNC’s continued support of Roy Moore, a U. S. Senate candidate from Alabama who is accused of preying on multiple underage girls.
“But this decision is not about me,” continued Franken. “It’s about the people of Minnesota. And it’s become clear that I can’t both pursue the Ethics Committee process and, at the same time, remain an effective Senator for them.”
Franken’s resignation marks a swift fall from grace for one of the Democratic Party’s most high-profile stars. The two-term senator had emerged as a prominent advocate for net neutrality, farm policy and healthcare and Wall Street reform. Not long ago, Franken was even mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2020.
See Sen. Franken’s full speech below. Read the full transcript of his remarks on the Senate floor here.
Next, Gov. Mark Dayton will appoint a temporary placeholder to fill Franken’s seat until the next regularly scheduled general election November 6, 2018. A special primary election to select partisan candidates for the November 8 election will be held August 14, 2018. Another election for the seat will take place in 2020, the end of Franken’s current Senate term.
Of the possible candidates mentioned to replace Sen. Franken, Lt. Gov. Tina Smith and Attorney General Lori Swanson have been cited as favorites by some political pundits. But former Minneapolis mayoral candidate Nekima Levy-Pounds and members of the Green Party of Minnesota have called on Gov. Dayton to appoint a woman of color.
“As Governor, you have a tremendous opportunity to make a historic appointment to fill Franken’s seat. The leader who is ultimately appointed to replace Franken should not only be a woman, but she should be a woman of color,” wrote Levy-Pounds in an open letter.
“The people of Minnesota deserve and need a woman of color who will represent our state with a spirit of boldness, uncompromising integrity, and who will be a voice on behalf of not just white Minnesotans, but people of color, who currently face some of the worst racial disparities in the nation.”
Gov. Dayton is expected to announce a replacement for Franken’s seat next week.