Gov. Dayton appoints Tina Smith to fill Franken’s Senate seat

Lt Governor Tina Smith (Courtesy of mn.gov)

After nearly a week of speculation, Gov. Mark Dayton announced Wednesday that he would appoint Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to fill the seat of Sen. Al Franken.

“Tina Smith is a person of the highest integrity and ability. There is no one I trust more to assume the responsibilities of this important office,” said Dayton. “I know that she will be a superb Senator, representing the best interests of our state and our citizens.”

Smith will resign the Office of Lieutenant Governor prior to being sworn into the United States Senate, which will occur following Senator Al Franken’s formal resignation from the Senate. She will then work on behalf of Minnesotans as United States Senator.

“I accept this appointment, and it will be my great honor to serve Minnesota as United States Senator,” said Smith. “Though I never anticipated this moment, I am resolved to do everything I can to move Minnesota forward. I will be a fierce advocate in the United States Senate for economic opportunity and fairness for all Minnesotans.”

Franken announced December 7 that he would resign from the U.S. Senate following weeks of sexual misconduct allegations made against him and growing calls from his Democratic colleagues to step down. His swift fall from grace and resignation adds fuel to what already promised to be an intense election cycle in November 2018, with an open governor’s seat and the seat of Sen. Amy Klobuchar up for reelection.

Franken has not yet given a date for his retirement, but in a statement said he’d work towards a  “speedy and seamless transition” for Smith, calling her an “excellent” choice for Senate and “a dedicated public servant.”

The African American DFL Caucus released a statement of support for Smith. “As Governor Dayton’s Chief of Staff and Lt. Governor, she has consistently fought to expand rights for workers, and has consistently championed raising the minimum wage. That is an issue of critical importance to our community. Her fight to fund early education for our children has led to 22,500 more kids attending preschool in Minnesota. Tina has also been extremely important in expanding Minnesota Care, an effort to make health care more affordable for our communities that we fully support…

“Because of her dedication to all Minnesotans, her strong understanding of Minnesota values and her ability to deliver results while building consensus, Tina is uniquely positioned to serve in the U.S. Senate. We congratulate her and look forward to working with her.”

Read more about Tina Smith’s history here.

See video of Gov. Dayton’s announcement below.