Gov. Dayton appoints Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to replace Franken in Senate

Gov. Dayton appoints Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to replace Franken in Senate

Smith was Dayton's first chief-of-staff after careers at General Mills, Planned Parenthood and the city of Minneapolis, where she was chief-of-staff to former Mayor R.T. Rybak.

Franken had hoped to make his case to the Senate Ethics Committee that his behavior shouldn't require him to give up the seat.

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".

Franken announced last week in a defensive and, at times, defiant speech on the Senate floor that he will step down in the coming weeks. The seat will be subject to a 2018 special election and a 2020 regular election.

The appointment was necessary with the pending resignation of U.S. Sen.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has appointed Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to fill Sen.

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Smith served as Dayton's trusted chief of staff for three years before ascending to become his No. 2, and was once considered a likely candidate to succeed him. 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. Dayton had come under intense pressure from top Democrats in Washington to appoint someone who wouldn't merely serve as a seat-warmer.

Franken has not yet set a date to leave Congress. Both Democrats spoke on condition of anonymity to speak freely about private discussions ahead of an announcement.

Smith responded to a text message from an AP reporter seeking comment Wednesday by simply thanking the reporter.

Minnesota Public Radio and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, citing Democratic sources they did not name, also reported that Smith was the choice.

The Dayton appointment will signal the closing chapter in the career of Franken, who until a few weeks ago had transformed his comedy career into political stature - he was a powerhouse fundraiser and sought-after surrogate - but is leaving the U.S. Senate at the urging of his Democratic colleagues. At least eight women shared stories of him touching them inappropriately without consent during photo-opportunities, on a celebrity tour to military installations overseas or at political events.

Republicans see an opportunity to pick up the Franken seat in next year's election, given the fact that Smith is a relative unknown.

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