Published: Wed, December 13, 2017
Arts&Culture | By Antoinette Montgomery

Minnesota lieutenant governor to replace Franken, run for seat in 2018

Minnesota lieutenant governor to replace Franken, run for seat in 2018

Asked about his role as a "king-maker" in appointing Smith, his trusted confidante, Gov. Mark Dayton jokingly corrected a reporter with a more appropriate term: "queen-maker". Smith's appointed term will last until January 2019. 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.

Last Thursday, Franken announced he would be stepping down from the U.S. Senate following allegations of sexual misconduct.

The appointment won't change the balance of power in the Senate; both Franken and Smith are Democrats.

It's not clear when Smith will head to Washington.

The selection also means Smith will join Sen. He did not, however, set a date for his departure from the Senate, saying only that he would leave "in the coming weeks".

A Democratic source confirmed the news to the Associated Press.

Smith served as Dayton's chief of staff prior to becoming his running mate for the 2014 election. Dayton has long treated her as an equal in the office, and it was that deference that fueled speculation she was being groomed to succeed him.

"I absolutely wholeheartedly support Tina Smith for Democratic Senate nomination, and I hope the people of Minnesota will elect her in 2018", he said.

Smith, 59, is a New Mexico native who moved to Minnesota for a job with General Mills. She was Minnesota Mayor R.T. Rybak's chief of staff before joining Dayton's office.

Dayton made her his point person on a massive public-private partnership to work with Mayo Clinic on an ambitious expansion in Rochester. But Dayton was under pressure from fellow Democrats in Washington to ensure his pick would use the appointment as a springboard for the November election.

Next year's race to fill the final two years of Franken's term is certain to be one of the nation's most closely watched and expensive.

Among politicians being courted by many in the GOP is former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who although saying he is "politically retired" has sounded much like a candidate in a series of Minnesota speeches, on social media and on some national interview shows. The state constitution calls for Fischbach, a Republican, to become lieutenant governor.

Minnesota Senate President Michelle Fischbach says she expects to keep her spot in the Senate when she becomes lieutenant governor.

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