Legislative Client Alert: Franken Fallout

Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A.

Following sexual harassment allegations, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) announced on Thursday, December 7, that he will be resigning in “the coming weeks” from his U.S. Senate seat.

Governor Mark Dayton is expected to appoint a replacement in the coming days. The only requirements for the replacement are that the person be a Minnesota resident, at least 30 years old, and a U.S. citizen. This person will serve until a special election is held in November 2018. The Senator elected in the 2018 special election will serve for two years until November 2020, the time Franken’s term would have been up. It is not known who Governor Dayton will appoint, but Lt. Governor Tina Smith has been mentioned as a strong contender. Smith is not expected to run for the seat in 2018.

Should Lt. Governor Tina Smith be appointed, an interesting scenario will unfold. As President of the Senate, state Sen. Michelle Fishbach (R-Paynesville) would become the Lt. Governor, and a special election would need to be held to replace Sen. Fischbach’s seat. The Republicans currently hold the state Senate by only one seat.  Complicating that margin, state Senator Dan Schoen (DFL-Cottage Grove) is also resigning amid sexual harassment allegations. Should the DFL hold Schoen’s seat and flip Fishbach’s, the DFL would regain the majority.

The November 2018 election in Minnesota will be momentous in that both U.S. Senate seats (Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s term will be up) will be on the ballot, all congressional seats, as well as the Governor’s seat, all state-wide offices, and all Minnesota House seats.

All eyes will be on Minnesota.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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