MN-Sen: Sen. Al Franken (D) says he will resign from the US Senate

Looks like the Al Franken decade will not turnout as well as Al Franken had hoped. The serial groper and senator from Minnesota will announce his resignation on Thursday; though he is denying a decision has been made, the drumbeat of calls became deafening today and it seems unlikely he can ride it out and avoid a resignation. Gov. Mark Dayton (D) will appoint a new senator to fill Franken’s seat and a special election will be held in November 2018 to fill the remainder of Franken’s term which ends in 2021.

The question of who runs obviously depends a great deal on who Dayton appoints. In a state with a large bench of female Dems, there is likely to be significant pressure to appoint a woman, and accordingly most of the top candidates are female. LG Tina Smith (D) is extremely close to Dayton and probably could have the appointment if she wants it, but seeing as she is currently de facto Governor due to Dayton’s health issues and declined to run for the office herself, it seems more likely than not she doesn’t want a major spotlight role. After Smith, the right of refusal probably goes to AG Lori Swanson (D). Swanson has been shadowboxing with a run for Governor, which would put her in a competitive convention/primary against Rep. Tim Walz (D) and others; a Senate appointment for Swanson could be a good way to make Walz’s path clearer (or alternatively but less likely, Walz could be plucked out of the Gov race with the appointment to make way for Swanson). From the House, Rep. Betty McCollum (D) is the most obvious name; while she is a backbencher in the House she is a relatively generic liberal that could be a decent statewide candidate. Progressive groups have been pushing strongly for Rep. Keith Ellison (D), but he might be about as weak a Dem as possible here. One other name who is getting some buzz but who seems unlikely is State Auditor Rebecca Otto (D), who is running for Governor but a long-shot due to her friction with Iron Range Dems.

There are several other options who are unlikely to get the appointment but still worth a mention: the other two members of the House delegation, Reps. Collin Peterson (D) and Rick Nolan (D), are unlikely as they are aging and right of the state’s Dem primary electorate. SoS Steve Simon (D), gubernatorial candidate and outgoing St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman (D), State Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk (D), Dayton Admin official and ex-State Sen. Katie Seiben (D), and Dayton admin official and incoming St. Paul mayor-elect Mel Carter (D) are all worth a mention as dark-horse prospects. Of course there is a possibility Dayton just tries to sidestep this entirely and appoint a placeholder to let the field slug it out in a primary; ex-AG Skip Humphrey (D), who now works at the CFPB, could be a placeholder appointee. Smith could fill the placeholder role as well. If a placeholder is not appointed, said appointee is probably no worse than 50-50 to get a clear primary field.

Republicans are likely to seriously contest this race; while it’s not a great pickup opportunity in the 2018 environment Minnesota is looking increasingly purple and with a possibly-unproven appointee this seat could be enticing for an “A” list Republican. Ex-Sen. Norm Coleman (R), who memorably “lost” to Franken in the squeaker 2008 race, is apparently already seriously considering a comeback bid and could be Republicans’ strongest contender. Another blast from the past, ex-Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), has also been flitting around the edges of the political scene and could try a comeback here. From the younger generation, Rep. Erik Paulsen (R) may decide to take the chance on moving up instead of trying for an equally-tough race in his purple MN-3, but he has declined opportunities to climb the latter before. Fellow Rep. Tom Emmer (R) could also be a possibility, though less likely as he seems unlikely to want to give up his Safe seat, while freshman Rep. Jason Lewis (R) is probably too polarizing to be a credible statewide contender. From the “B” list, any of the various candidates running for Governor, including Hennepin County commissioner Jeff Johnson (R), State Sen. Matt Osmek (R), State Rep. Matt Dean (R), ex-State Rep. and ex-MNGOP chair Keith Downey (R), and Woodbury Mayor Mary Guiliani-Stevens (R), could switch here. Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek (R) and businessman and 2014 nominee Mike McFadden (R) may also be worth a watch. State Rep. Jim Newberger (R), currently the sacrificial lamb in a hopeless run against popular Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D), could switch to this seat, but would be as much of a long shot here.

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58 Comments

  • krazen1211 December 6, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    Real shame about Norm Coleman. He would probably have won in 2014 I think. Apparently he was spotted around the Senate today.

    • cer December 6, 2017 at 5:15 pm

      Coleman got robbed!


      Conservative first, Republican second!

      • TennesseeMike December 6, 2017 at 5:18 pm

        For sure.


        TN-2 District. A Social and Fiscal Conservative Republican

    • aas34 December 6, 2017 at 5:17 pm

      He should run for this seat. He’s more electable than Pawlenty and Paulsen and there is little lost if he runs and loses.


      32, R, CA-2

      • edtorres04 December 6, 2017 at 5:28 pm

        I don’t think running an anti-trump republican is a good idea in MN.

      • GorrestFump December 6, 2017 at 5:33 pm

        He’s a K street lobbyist whose been in Washington the past 6 years, I don’t think he’s remotely electable.

        • aas34 December 6, 2017 at 7:10 pm

          Lobbying in general has a negative connotation when it comes to running for office, but tbere are different levels.

          The only thing concerning is his work for Saudi Arabia. If he can clearly respond to those ties I cannot see how the other stuff is all that negative.


          32, R, CA-2

      • RRR December 6, 2017 at 5:49 pm

        Wow. “He should run,” in regards to a straight, white, male candidate, is not a phrase I ever thought I’d see you write! 😉


        PA-2/IL-9/NY-7; Bronxville Test conservative
        More Steve Litzows/no Moore Kings or Bannons. Sasse '20

        • aas34 December 6, 2017 at 7:01 pm

          Apparently you have not paid that much attention, lol!


          32, R, CA-2

      • Mike1965 December 6, 2017 at 6:29 pm

        Isn’t losing elections to Jesse Ventura and Al Franken in one lifetime enough? If he is the Republicans strongest candidate Democrats are in good shape.


        #ThanksObama

    • Izengabe December 6, 2017 at 5:25 pm

      Real shame Tom Emmer couldn’t have gotten an extra 8,800 Republicans to the polls in 2010. We could have had a GOP Senator here or forced Franken to remain in the Senate.


      Follow me on Twitter: @Izengabe_

    • HS December 6, 2017 at 5:53 pm

      I hadn’t heard that Coleman might run. Link?

      I don’t know why Dayton would feel pressure to appoint a woman (except there is always pressure on the D side for diversity). The other Senator is a woman. With that said, Lori Swanson strikes me as a strong choice for him, since she has won statewide multiple times. But McCollum does not strike me as ready for prime time. And we (the GOP) can’t be lucky for Louis Farrakhans favorite Congressman to get the nod. Ellison might well lose.

      I don’t think Coleman would be the best choice, but there is no obvious GOP candidate. I doubt Paulson would jump right now; he still should win reelection in a purple district. And Pawlenty is also a lobbyist who might have a tough time winning (he only barely won the Governorship twice). Probably one of the weaker candidates for Governor are most likely to switch and win.

    • Indy1975a December 6, 2017 at 7:38 pm

      Given that Coleman was probably robbed, I’m not going to blame Minnesota voters for electing Franken in 2008.

      But I do blame them for reelecting him. And BTW, where the heck were the Minnesota Rs in 2014? They basically wrote the race off and didn’t find a decent candidate to get rid of him.


      Independent, R until November 2016. Proud "Globalist Cuck"!

      • californianintexas December 6, 2017 at 10:38 pm

        Minnesota and Michigan surprised me the most in 2014. A 300-vote margin last election and a sixth-year itch election with a D president should have made MN a top R target. In MI, with Snyder poised for a landslide win, I expected the Senate race to be close if not an R pickup with an R who had already won statewide office, not a double-digit D romp.


        34, Female, Libertarian, UT-02 (hometown CA-31), theelectionsgeek.com

        • Greyhound December 6, 2017 at 10:54 pm

          It was a field issue. Basically, in 2014 the GOP had like 15 better seats to target, and focused on those instead. Oregon, Michigan, Minnesota, and New Mexico were all probably viable GOP targets heading into the year, but we decided to focus on seats like Iowa, Colorado, Montana, Lousiana, Alaska, etc.

          Its sort of why I don’t expect the GOP to seriously target Michigan, New Mexico, Maine, etc, even though the states themselves are competitive enough to be worth an effort. We just have so many targets this year that you have to prioritize your focus.


          R, 27, CA-18. Anti-Anti-Trump

        • Republican Michigander December 6, 2017 at 11:22 pm

          “” In MI, with Snyder poised for a landslide win, I expected the Senate race to be close if not an R pickup with an R who had already won statewide office, not a double-digit D romp.”””

          If I didn’t have work to do tomorrow, I’d run to the Bacardi 151 after reading this. Bad memories, especially as I personally know and like Terri.
          Campaigns matter, and that was one of the worst 5 I’ve seen among R’s in Michigan that were not supposed to be sacrificial lambs. Peters could have been beat. Mike Cox did it in 2002.


          MI-08 - Michigan is a red state again. We need a 50 state strategy and an 83 county strategy.

  • rdelbov December 6, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    Oh how the accidential senator has fallen

  • TennesseeMike December 6, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    Good riddance, I never could stand him.


    TN-2 District. A Social and Fiscal Conservative Republican

    • rdelbov December 6, 2017 at 5:36 pm

      One possible winner in all of this is Judge Stras who had a lovefest hearing last week in DC

      http://www.startribune.com/minnesota-justice-david-stras-set-for-senate-confirmation-hearing-wednesday/460755193/

    • Indy1975a December 6, 2017 at 7:28 pm

      “Could never stand him” is a grave understatement as to how I feel about Al Franken. He’s worse than 95% of the max security prison population in my book.


      Independent, R until November 2016. Proud "Globalist Cuck"!

      • Boehnerwasright December 6, 2017 at 8:03 pm

        Although I think it is useless to try and change your mind on this topic, I will try one last time.

        You are saying that a crude groper is worse then the worst of the worst in a max security prision. We are talking here about people who rape/murder children or similar bad crimes.

        • Indy1975a December 6, 2017 at 8:16 pm

          Again I’m not talking about the current charges that Franken faces, I’m talking about his character as a whole. I felt strongly this way about Franken way before any of these recent things came out, except that none of it surprised me. I’ve been disgusted about this one since I first learned about him and his politics in the early 1990s. BTW, I hold only a slightly higher opinion of Bill Clinton.


          Independent, R until November 2016. Proud "Globalist Cuck"!

  • andrew_1918 December 6, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    Not so fast

    “Not accurate, @mpr @Stowydad. No final decision has been made and the Senator is still talking with his family. Please update your story”
    https://twitter.com/SenFranken/status/938532408525246464

    • Izengabe December 6, 2017 at 5:39 pm

      That’s what they always say when stuff like this leaks early.


      Follow me on Twitter: @Izengabe_

      • cer December 6, 2017 at 5:50 pm

        Wouldn’t it be funny, if he decides to quit the Dem party, but not quit the Senate with neither party wanting him to caucus with them!? 🙂


        Conservative first, Republican second!

    • GorrestFump December 6, 2017 at 5:47 pm

      Is he really thinking about staying? How does he think he can go forward when he’s been shunned by half of his colleagues…

      • ike56 December 6, 2017 at 6:15 pm

        Well, unless he were to be expelled, he could still sit around and vote on things for the next few years and collect his paycheque. His stature is such that there is no obvious landing pad for him, and if he feels that he can tolerate the heat until 2020, he is exactly the kind of person who would issue a big FU to the party, DC establishment, and pretty much anyone else he feels like sticking it to.


        38, USN CPO (CA-52, stuck with Scott Peters until a good candidate comes along).

        • Ryan_in_SEPA December 6, 2017 at 6:21 pm

          Larry Craig did it after his episode at the MSP airport. He was going to resign then decided to give everyone the middle finger. Everyone kind of just shunned him to avoid wide stances!


          31, PA-6, fiscally conservative communitarian, Giant Meteor 2020 - Just End It Already!

  • Son_of_the_South December 6, 2017 at 6:12 pm

    I don’t think that anyone outside of Coleman or Paulsen would make this a Tossup. However, I think that the MNGOP could use this as a great opportunity to build the state party up. Whenever they win, it tends to be in spite of themselves. A somewhat competitive open Senate race could be just the opportunity they need to solidify their Outstate gains and work on organization.


    24, R, TN-09
    Classical liberals are a minority. Fusionism is the answer.

    • VastBlightKingConspiracy December 6, 2017 at 6:38 pm

      Hey, you could go more left-wing and weaker than Keith Ellison.

      Say hello to Senator Ginger Jentzen.


      I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Republican.

    • Daniel Surman December 6, 2017 at 9:29 pm

      They already have 3-4 House seats, both legislative chambers, and a gubernatorial race that are all competitive. They dont really need the jolt I think, unless it is a big name candidate like Paulsen, Pawlenty, or Coleman that could make the money rain.


      R, TX-14

  • Mike1965 December 6, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    FWIW I would bet Swanson vs the field as Dayton’s pick. If not Swanson then probably Smith. A couple more long shot names, Tina Liebling and Peggy Flanagan. If Dayton goes the placeholder route it will probably be Smith with Allen Page another possibility.


    #ThanksObama

  • Greyhound December 6, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    Probably Likely D at best right now. I just don’t see us taking this seat with Klobuchar also on the ticket in a mediocre at best year for the GOP with like 10-15 better targets up at the same time.


    R, 27, CA-18. Anti-Anti-Trump

    • kewgardens December 6, 2017 at 7:11 pm

      Yeah, having ultra-popular Klobuchar on the ballot really screws the GOP here. She will probably be able to drag even a poor Dem candidate across the finish line in 2018.

      GOP has to hope for a placeholder in 2017 and a multi-candidate competitive primary in 2018 in which Ellison (or maybe Otto) manages to squeak through.

      • kewgardens December 6, 2017 at 7:17 pm

        If reports about Dayton appointing Smith as a placeholder are true, part A of my 2018 GOP flip theory may be in place.

        • Indy1975a December 6, 2017 at 7:32 pm

          Given the likely national conditions in 2018, I doubt Otto loses. Ellison is the only one who could lose this seat; but he would also bait Trump to regularly attack him (for his religion).


          Independent, R until November 2016. Proud "Globalist Cuck"!

      • Greyhound December 6, 2017 at 11:00 pm

        What’s the last time a state has simultaneously elected two Senators from opposite parties (Like one seat is up as a special election and the other is normally scheduled for that year)? I can’t think of any off the top of my head at all.


        R, 27, CA-18. Anti-Anti-Trump

        • roguemapper December 6, 2017 at 11:17 pm

          In 1966 when South Carolina elected Thurmond (R) and Hollings (D).


          Dem NC-11

  • Mike1965 December 6, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    Roll call great mentioner article.

    http://www.rollcall.com/news/what-if-al-franken-resigns

    Most interesting is who is saying they will not run. Walz, Nolan, McCollum, Peterson out for Dems, Paulsen out for Republicans.


    #ThanksObama

    • kewgardens December 6, 2017 at 7:14 pm

      Good news for the GOP re: MN-03. Paulsen may be the only Republican who could hold it in 2018 — although I wouldn’t bet the house on him surviving.

      Lewis is probably dead man walking at this point.

  • Mike1965 December 6, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    https://www.politico.com/story/2017/12/06/al-franken-senate-smith-211125

    Politico says Dayton will appoint Smith as a placeholder.


    #ThanksObama

    • Indy1975a December 6, 2017 at 7:27 pm

      That’s not good for basic governance in Minnesota given that she has been effectively running the state.
      If he wants a placeholder, pick some senior cabinet member or in the state Senate/Assembly.


      Independent, R until November 2016. Proud "Globalist Cuck"!

      • Mayor Perk December 6, 2017 at 7:35 pm

        Or Fritz Mondale!


        30. OH-12. Establishment Republican.

  • rdelbov December 6, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    As much as I dislike Franken IMO his resigning actually brings the US senate down. There is bad behavior and then there is actions that bring disrespect enough to the senate to merit expulsion.

  • Indy1975a December 6, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    I’m not 100% sure Franken will resign, but if he doesn’t my guess is that there should be enough votes to expel him, and he should be expelled ASAP. (As should Roy Moore once he is seated. )


    Independent, R until November 2016. Proud "Globalist Cuck"!

    • kewgardens December 6, 2017 at 7:44 pm

      Still think that Moore is a 10-1 bet to win on Tuesday? I don’t know. The polls are very close. And the Dems are going all in for Jones, making a determined effort to max out African-American turnout. https://twitter.com/WaPoSean/status/938552578857684992

      • Indy1975a December 6, 2017 at 7:51 pm

        Thanks for asking. Yes I do. I’m very sure that Moore will win, although it won’t be by much (have said about 5-7% all along after the scandal broke). Jones’ ceiling IMO is around 45%, and I can’t see write-in Lee Busby getting anywhere around 10%.

        But I’m not even sure I’m rooting for him to win anymore, even against pro-abortion Jones (whom I would never ever vote for). Moore is a major albatross for the rest of his term, and if the Rs aren’t committed to removing this guy then may just as well be better if he loses. (I doubt losing this race will cost the Rs their majority in 2019, and Jones has no chance in 2020.) But I see that as a very low probability.


        Independent, R until November 2016. Proud "Globalist Cuck"!

      • VastBlightKingConspiracy December 6, 2017 at 11:27 pm

        I keep hearing about these betting odds but I’m not hearing enough about actual betting.


        I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Republican.

  • Mike1965 December 6, 2017 at 7:53 pm

    http://www.startribune.com/gov-mark-dayton-likely-to-tap-lt-gov-tina-smith-as-franken-replacement/462412193/

    If Smith is appointed, however, state Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, the president of the Senate, would become the lieutenant governor.

    That in turn would set up a special election for Fischbach’s Senate seat, joining the seat being vacated by Sen. Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park, who announced his own resignation after allegations of sexual harassment.

    The state Senate is currently controlled by Republicans by one vote. Which means the DFL could take control of the Senate if they hold the Schoen seat and flip the Fischbach district.


    #ThanksObama

    • Mike1965 December 6, 2017 at 7:56 pm

      FWIW MN-13 is very Republican.


      #ThanksObama

    • shamlet December 6, 2017 at 7:58 pm

      Can Fischbach decline the LG job? Seems like a bad deal for her to give up 3 years (plus) as Senate President for 1 as LG.


      R, MD-7. Put not your trust in princes. Process is more important than outcome.

      • Mike1965 December 6, 2017 at 8:01 pm

        Good question.


        #ThanksObama

      • w920us December 6, 2017 at 8:10 pm

        Couldn’t they temporarily install a different Republican (or a vulnerable Democrat for that matter) as Senate President to get around this?


        R, South Philly, 47, Gay, WFU Alum
        #TrumpVoter #NeverHillary

    • Greyhound December 6, 2017 at 8:01 pm

      Is her seat really vulnerable though? It’s right smack in the middle of some of the most Republican territory in the state, and Trump probably won it by 30 points if not more.


      R, 27, CA-18. Anti-Anti-Trump

      • Mike1965 December 6, 2017 at 8:02 pm

        Very safe R.


        #ThanksObama

    • Manhatlibertarian December 6, 2017 at 11:29 pm

      Hmmm… I seem to recall reading that Dayton is so ill that Tina Smith often has to act as Gov. Unless Dayton’s health improves and Repub Fischbach becomes Lt. Gov if Smith becomes Senator then she might end up being defacto Gov for much of the time next year. If Dayton’s health deteriorates enough and he has to resign then she would become Gov. Now that would complicate things, wouldn’t it?

      • OGGoldy December 7, 2017 at 7:03 am

        Smith has been handling all but the most official duties, as Dayton’s health is very poor. Dayton did just announce that he is cancer free the other day though, do maybe he is over the hump? Still, it would be a gigantic political risk for the reasons you mentioned.

  • StatenIslandTest December 6, 2017 at 11:55 pm

    A La NJ but a little more so because its a near-purple state with a better bench the GOP needs to play here in the ashes of scandal.

    Also this seat has consistently elected Jews (of both parties) since 1978! In a state that is less than 1 pct Jewish.


    32, Jersey City

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