Franken to Make Announcement Thursday, Expert Speculates on What Comes Next

December 07, 2017 06:02 AM

Sen. Al Franken is expected to make an announcement Thursday, following a day filled with pressure from dozens of lawmakers to step down.

If Franken does in fact step down, Gov. Mark Dayton would pick his replacement.


Multiple Democratic sources in Washington and Minnesota told ABC News the embattled senator is expected to announce his resignation. This despite the fact Franken's office denied reports Wednesday he has made a final decision.

The sources told ABC News that Dayton, a Democrat, is strongly considering appointing Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, also a Democrat, to Franken's seat, at least temporarily, should he resign.

If Franken does hand over his seat, Dayton will make a move Minnesotans haven't seen in 15 years.

RELATED: Barkley Says Getting Up to Speed Quickly Would Be Biggest Challenge for Appointed Senator

"It's obviously a very serious decision that the Governor has to make," former DFL Chair Mike Erlandson said.

Erlandson says a replacement could be short-term solution.

"He may appoint somebody that may be a placeholder until the 2018 election," Erlandson said. 

The alternative is a more permanent role. 

"That has to be somebody that can win statewide," Erlandson said. "Regardless of who he appoints, they'll serve until 2018 when they'll have to run for re-election."

Political experts tell KSTP several candidates could be a good fit including Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, Attorney General Lori Swanson, Rep. Betty McCollum, Rep. Keith Ellison and  Rep. Tim Walz. 

"All of us would be ill-advised to try and make a guess," Erlandson said. "There are certainly a lot of great names out there. My gut is that he would likely choose a woman to fill this role given all that's taken place in Minnesota."

RELATED: Democrats Call for Franken's Resignation, Announcement Planned Thursday; Office Says No Final Decision Yet

Regardless of whether Franken's seat is vacant come Thursday, it's given many a chance to reflect on the bigger picture. 

"We have a real opportunity, I think, to make sure that we educate the next generation of young leaders," Erlandson said. 

Experts believe if Franken resigns, Dayton will announce his replacement as soon as possible. The last time Minnesota had two U.S Senate seats and governor's office up for grabs was 1978.

If Dayton picks Smith, the role of Lt. Governor would be filled by Senate President Michelle Fishbach, who is a Republican.


Brett Hoffland

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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