MN Gov to Name Franken's Replacement 12/13 06:27
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton was set to reveal his
choice Wednesday to replace Al Franken in the U.S. Senate, with the top
contender seen as his longtime adviser Lt. Gov. Tina Smith.
Dayton has declined to answer questions about the appointment since Franken
announced his impending resignation last week following allegations of sexual
misconduct. In making the appointment, Dayton was weighing a short-term
replacement against pressure from top Democrats in Washington to name someone
who would run in 2018 in a special election to complete Franken's term ending
A Democratic official told The Associated Press last week that Dayton was
ready to choose Smith as a placeholder before being pressured to appoint
someone who could leverage the appointment into a 2018 run.
That official and a second Democratic operative said that Smith was
considering a 2018 run amid that pressure. Both Democrats spoke on condition of
anonymity to speak freely about private discussions ahead of an announcement.
Smith, who earlier this year passed up an expected campaign for governor,
did not immediately respond to telephone messages Tuesday. She has not
responded to questions about the appointment since Franken announced plans to
resign in the coming weeks.
Smith, 59, a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, arrived in Minnesota in 1984
to take a marketing job with General Mills. She grew more political active in
the 1990s, founding her own marketing and political consulting firm and
eventually managing Walter Mondale's unsuccessful 2002 Senate run as well as
his son Ted Mondale's 1998 governor for candidate --- also unsuccessful.
She also served as a vice president of external affairs for Planned
Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, from 2003 to 2006. After
that, she served as chief of staff to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak before
taking the same job with Dayton.
The special election for Franken's seat is certain to be a closely watched
and expensive race for what amounts to a swing seat. Republicans have already
floated the possibility that former two-term Gov. Tim Pawlenty will run, giving
them a widely known candidate who can raise plenty of money.
In a sign of Pawlenty's potential political strength, a top
Democratic-allied interest group, Alliance for a Better Minnesota, last month
paid for a poll attacking him at a time when he was said to be considering a
run for governor.
Pawlenty deflected questions about a Senate run Tuesday in an appearance on
CNN, where he weighed in on the Alabama Senate race against Republican Roy
Moore's candidacy. Moore narrowly lost the race to Democrat Doug Jones.