(St. Paul MN-) As many had predicted, Governor Mark Dayton this morning announced the appointment of Lt. Governor Tina Smith to fill U.S. Senator Al Franken's seat until November of next year.
Republicans now control the state Senate by a single vote, and in theory, Fischbach's seat would need to be filled in a special election.
The person Dayton names, will serve until the general election next year.
Smith has been lieutenant governor since 2015.
The announcement could well put to rest the simmering speculation that Franken might be keeping the door open to remain in the Senate, if Roy Moore is elected in Tuesday's Alabama Senate race. At least eight women have made allegations of sexual misconduct against the former comedian. Smith, a former political operative who was also VP for public affairs at Planned Parenthood Minnesota, announced that she plans to run for her seat in the 2018 special election, a shift from earlier reports that she would just be a placeholder. The victor of that election will serve out the remainder of Franken's term until 2020, when they will once again be up for re-election. "But I do want to say, though, that sexual harassment is disrespectful to people and it can not be tolerated". "And that is a good thing, and it is so important that we don't slide backwards".
Rebecca Esehai, 74, of Lakeville, with her husband, said of the Senate appointment, "I'm sure Gov. Dayton did the best he could do and he believes in what he has done. He's our governor and I'm very proud of him". "It just seems that no one is really paying attention to the struggles of single mothers, the elderly and low-income people, and instead are cutting budgets".
Smith's ascension was set in motion by Franken's decision last week to leave the Senate in the coming weeks in the face of mounting accusations of sexual misconduct before and during his time in office.
Smith said she'd decided this was the best way for her to serve Minnesota in this "extraordinary" time, adding, "I'm prepared to do this".
Smith plans to continue to work with Franken's staff during the transition.
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