ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Gov. Mark Dayton has appointed Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to fill resigning Sen. Al Franken's seat in the United States Senate until 2018. He announced his pick at a press conference at the Minnesota State Capitol Tuesday morning.
Smith served as Dayton's chief of staff prior to becoming his running mate for the 2014 election. During her time in office, Smith has led efforts to expand access to high-speed internet throughout the state, combat the opioid crisis and expand access to high-quality early learning opportunities for thousands more Minnesota children.
"In moments like this you have to ask yourself, I had to ask myself: what was the best way for me to serve? What contribution could I make? What would it look like?" Smith said at the press conference. "I had to assess that and as I did that assessment, it became clear to me that I'm prepared to do this, I'm qualified to do this and I have a unique role to play here."
Last Thursday, Franken announced he would be stepping down from the U.S. Senate following allegations of sexual misconduct. The Minnesota Senator and former comedian has been accused by eight women of groping and sexual harassment, with accusations ranging from incidents in 2003 through his time in office.
Franken has not yet set a date to leave Congress.
Smith says she will run in a special election in November 2018. If she wins and opts to run for re-election at the end of Franken's term in 2020, Smith will be faced with raising money for two U.S. Senate campaigns in two years.
Regarding the election, Smith said, "I shouldn't be underestimated and if I weren't confident, I wouldn't be doing this."
Statement from Sen. Al Franken
"Tina Smith will make an excellent United States Senator. She is a dedicated public servant who's worked tirelessly on behalf of Minnesotans, and Governor Dayton couldn't have made a better choice for this job. Her record of accomplishment as Lieutenant Governor demonstrates that she'll be an effective senator who knows how to work across party lines to get things done for Minnesota. I look forward to working with her on ensuring a speedy and seamless transition."