Sen. Franken to resign U.S. Senate seat | Minnesota Public Radio News

Sen. Franken to resign U.S. Senate seat

A majority of the Senate's Democrats called on the two-term lawmaker to quit amid new allegations of sexual misconduct.

  • Franken in his own words

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  • Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and his wife, Franni Bryson, arrive at the U.S. Capitol Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, in Washington, D.C. Franken announced that he will be resigning in the coming weeks after being accused by several women of sexual harassment. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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  • After Franken, what's next in Minnesota?

    With the resignation of Minnesota's Al Franken, Republicans may have just been handed a possible takeover opportunity in a state President Trump lost by just 40,000 votes.
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  • Dayton: Franken replacement within 2 days

    Associated Press

    Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says he hasn't decided who he'll appoint to fill Sen. Al Franken's seat ahead of an election next year.

    Franken said Thursday he would step down in coming weeks after allegations of improper behavior from several women.

    Dayton says he expects to make and announce his decision in the next couple of days. His temporary appointee will serve until an election next November decides who will complete the remainder of Franken's term through 2020.

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  • Franken's resignation triggers a rush to replace him

    Kyle Potter, Associated Press
    Sen. Al Franken's announcement Thursday that he will resign triggers a mad-dash special election in 2018 to finish the Minnesota Democrat's term, with former Gov. Tim Pawlenty seen as a top possibility for Republicans to cash in an unforeseen pickup chance.
    Franken said he would step down "in the coming weeks" after a series of sexual misconduct allegations caused support in his own party to collapse.
    Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton — a Democrat — will appoint a replacement to serve until the November 2018 election that would fill the seat until Franken's six-year term expires in 2020.
    Dayton said he hadn't decided on an appointee but expected to do so within two days. A top candidate would be his lieutenant governor, Tina Smith, a former chief of staff who had considered and then rejected a possible governor bid next year.
    Meanwhile, eyes are already turning to the 2018 race.
    For Republicans, Franken's exit could saddle Democrats with enough baggage to help the GOP break through in a statewide election for the first time in more than a decade. Republicans haven't won since Gov. Tim Pawlenty won a second term in 2006.
    Top Republicans quickly contacted Pawlenty and former Sen. Norm Coleman, who narrowly lost the 2008 Senate race to Franken after an extensive recount.
    Coleman immediately said he would not run, posting on his personal Facebook page that he's focused on his chairmanship of the Republican Jewish Coalition and other roles.
    But Pawlenty has been weighing a return to elected office since he chose not to seek a third term as governor in 2010, and after mounting an unsuccessful campaign for the presidential nomination. He's been meeting with party leaders, shuttling between his home in suburban Minneapolis and Washington, where he works as CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable.
    State House Speaker Kurt Daudt has been openly considering a bid for governor for months. After narrowly losing to Dayton in 2010, Rep. Tom Emmer, a Republican representing Minnesota's most conservative congressional district, could look at another statewide run after two terms in the House.
    Democratic candidates for governor could be best positioned to switch to a Senate bid, having spent months connecting with party activists and the donors who would be critical for a costly election. State Rep. Erin Murphy, longtime Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman are all running.
    For both the Dayton appointment and in next November's election, female candidates would appear to have an inside track as a clear response to the allegations against Franken. Franken himself appeared to push for a woman to replace him, saying Minnesota needed a senator who could "focus all her energy" on the job.
    Smith was the name most frequently mentioned for the temporary appointment. She is a longtime political operative known largely for behind-the-scenes work, having been Dayton's chief of staff from 2011 through 2014 before stepping up as his running mate.
    She ran former Vice President Walter Mondale's brief U.S. Senate campaign in 2002 after Sen. Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash. She also served as a top executive at Planned Parenthood in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.
    Dayton could also look to a pair of fellow Democratic statewide elected officials: Attorney General Lori Swanson or State Auditor Rebecca Otto.
    Dayton also could choose to send a loud signal against sexual harassment with his appointment, naming someone such as Rep. Erin Maye Quade to Franken's seat. Maye Quade is a Democratic state lawmaker who, along with other women, accused two fellow state lawmakers of sexual harassment, resulting in their resignation last month.
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  • Transcript: Al Franken's Senate resignation speech

    Here is a complete transcript of Al Franken's resignation speech, delivered on the Senate floor the morning of Dec. 7, 2017.
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  • What is your reaction to Sen. Franken's decision to resign?

    "I'm devastated. As a woman with 'me, too' stories of my own to share, I have mixed feelings about the accusations against Senator Franken. However, I do know these things: He has worked tirelessly for progressive causes and for the common good of Minnesotans. He has a strong record of advocacy in women's issues. The transgressions he committed while an entertainer on USO tours have to be seen in context, and I have yet to see indisputable proof of other alleged transgressions. A sexual predator sits in the Oval Office, a molester of teenage girls is on the verge of election to the Senate, and a congressman--who has used taxpayer money to settle suits filed against him for sexual harassment--receives no admonitions to resign from his part. Yet Al Franken, whose punishment so overwhelms the gravity of his "crimes," if any were committed, is forced to give up his job. There is no justice in this. There is no satisfaction in this. It is just sad." - Pamela Bjorklund, 66, Duluth 
    "I think he needed to resign. Most importantly as a country we need to take sexual harassment seriously and listen to the women rather than attacking them.  But it makes me very sad. He was a very good senator and worked very hard for causes I believe in." - Steve Travers, 54, Democrat, Moorhead
    "Profound sadness.  I feel that he was targeted and he was not allowed to let the proper hearings and even justice to occur. The very fact that the allegations against him are put in the same language as those against Trump and Moore is a travesty. He definitely was singled out because he is well known and a very effective senator." - Mary Farmer, 76, Democrat, Brainerd
    "Long overdue-good riddance" - Bill Schultz, 80, Republican, Fergus Falls
    "I have never voted for Al Franken. And I believe that his behavior was tacky in the extreme. But I can't see that his misconduct rises (or sinks?) to the level that requires that he be forced to resign. I hope that in the cold light of some future morning, some of his critics will awake feeling truly ashamed of their hysteria and vindictiveness." - Ian Maitland, 73, Republican, Wayzata
    "I think it’s a joke. I didn’t vote for Franken and wasn’t the biggest fan but I think he shouldn’t  resign when the Democratic Party is just trying to throw him under the bus to save face. We knew what we elected when we put Saturday night live comedian in office and it was great then when he had name recognition to beat Coleman but now everyone is SHOCKED. I feel bad for the guy and I don’t even personally like him" - Justin Reinke, 34, Libertarian, Blaine
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  • A sampling of reaction to Sen. Franken saying he'll resign

    Associated Press
    A sampling of reaction to U.S. Sen. Al Franken's announcement Thursday that he will resign:
    Gov. Mark Dayton, D-Minn. — "I extend my deepest regrets to the women, who have had to endure their unwanted experiences with Senator Franken. As a personal friend, my heart also goes out to Al and his family during this difficult time. In other respects, Al Franken has been an outstanding Senator. He has been, as Senator Paul Wellstone used to say, 'A Senator from the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.' He is very smart, very hard-working, and very committed to Minnesota."
    Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, D-Minn. — "On this difficult day, I am holding Senator Franken, his family, and those who have worked beside him over the last decade to make this country a better place, in my thoughts. I also am thinking today about the many women around the country who have come forward in recent months to share their stories about sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can never be tolerated in our politics, our businesses, or anywhere else."
    Sen. Any Klobuchar, D-Minn. — "In every workplace in America, including the U.S. Senate, we must confront the challenges of harassment and misconduct.  Nothing is easy or pleasant about this, but we all must recognize that our workplace cultures — and the way we treat each other as human beings — must change."
    U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn. — "Senator Al Franken has been more than a colleague — he has been a friend and an ally on the issues that are most important to Minnesota families. Al's voice and vote were instrumental in extending health care to millions of Americans, helping our students succeed, and upholding our commitments to tribal nations."
    U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn. and vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee — "Sen. Franken's decision to resign shows a strength of character that other elected officials haven't."
    U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn. — "The behavior described in these continued allegations is out of line and unacceptable. Senator Franken is making the right choice by resigning."
    U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, D.-Minn. — "Senator Franken has determined that he can no longer effectively represent the people of Minnesota. He has done the right thing for Minnesota and our Nation by stepping down."
    U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn. — "Elected officials hold the trust of the constituents they represent, and it is crucial we cherish and honor that trust. I am hopeful this will move our society towards better behavior."
    U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn. — "I have served with Senator Franken for eight years in the U.S. Congress and he has accomplished a lot of good for Minnesotans. But I believe the pattern of his behavior is unacceptable and his ability to continue to effectively serve Minnesotans has been irreparably compromised."
    Minnesota DFL Party Chairman Ken Smith — "He has been a tireless and strong progressive leader on behalf of Minnesotans in Washington, but that in no way excuses his behavior toward the women who came forward. His resignation today is an important part of the healing process."
    St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman — "It's a sad day for all the causes Al championed. ... But this day is yet another reminder that the countless women who have been the victims of sexual assault and harassment must not be silenced. For too long, their stories have been disbelieved or subject to special scrutiny. As we go forward, it is my hope that we will seize this time in our history to fundamentally change how women are treated in our society."
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  • As Dayton weighs Franken replacement, who may run in 2018?

    Gov. Mark Dayton expects to soon choose a replacement for resigning Sen. Al Franken. Speculation is churning about who he'll pick, and who will run for the seat next year. | Who's in, who's out, who's being talked up
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  • Many Duluth Democrats sad, angry over Franken's departure

    Democrats in Duluth and northeast Minnesota were critical to Al Franken's razor-thin victory in 2008 in his first election to be a U.S. Senator. Now, for many, it's hard to see him leave.
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