Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith has reportedly been tipped to takeover a Senate seat after Al Franken announced his resignation amid multiple sexual harassment allegations.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune said Thursday that Smith was the likeliest choice to replace Franken. It cited an unnamed high-ranking Democrat source.
If selected, Smith would be the 22nd woman currently in the Senate, a new record for Capitol Hill and the first female appointment to come in the wake of sexual harassment scandals rocking Washington this year. However, Gov. Mark Dayton said in a statement that he has not yet decided on who would serve as the caretaker of the Senate spot.
Smith, a close ally of the Minnesota governor and a former chief of staff for the Minneapolis mayor, has previously indicated that she has no interest in running for office herself, which could mean that she would only temporarily occupy the Senate seat until the November 2018 special election.
Her presumed lack of interest in that political race makes her an appealing candidate for the job, sources told Politico.
“She makes practical sense, and she would be a good bridge builder,” one Democratic operative told Politico.
A potential drawback that may give Democrats pause if Smith is appointed is that it could set off a chain reaction down the ladder of Minnesota’s political landscape, leaving vacancies in the state senate that Republicans could use to widen their slim majority.
Franken faced a mounting chorus of calls for his exit after the seventh woman came forward with a sexual assault allegation on Wednesday, accusing the former comedian of forcibly kissing her. Franken has denied some of the allegations against him, but announced on Thursday that he would resign in the “coming weeks.”
Minnesota’s other Senate seat is currently occupied by the first woman elected to that office, Democrat Amy Klobuchar. Only five states have had two women Senators represent them simultaneously.