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Smith’s Appointment Splits Leadership in Minnesota

December 13, 2017 11:22 PM

(ABC 6 News) - Just last week Senator Al Franken, D - Minn., said he would step down from his position after eight women accused him of sexual misconduct.

Wednesday morning, Governor Mark Dayton announced that Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith will be Franken’s replacement.

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"I have selected our outstanding Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith," Dayton said.

Dayton’s appointment of Smith fills the U.S. Senate hole Franken will leave; however, Smith's replacement could stir things up in the state senate.

"I'm a little concerned for potential for disruption of our Minnesota Senate here," Republican state representative Peggy Bennett said. 

According to the Minnesota constitution, Michelle Fischbach, the Republican president of the Minnesota Senate will step into the role of lieutenant governor, causing a rare party split between the two executive positions.

“She'll be able to work well with the governor as well, but I can see where that could be a little difficult, maybe, at times," Bennett said. "I know she wants to be able to maintain her Senate position as well as the lieutenant governor position and do those together.”

"I think that the question of whether or not Senator Fischbach can serve as president of the Senate and as lieutenant governor is one that the lawyers within the governor's office, within the attorney general's office and the Senate DFL are trying to figure out," Fluence Media Founder and Principal Blois Olson said.  
           
Olson also said Fischbach's desire will be contested by many DFL members.

"There had been discussions that the Senate and the House would go into a special legislative session, where they would elect a Democrat to be president of the Senate for one day so that individual could serve as lieutenant governor and then Fischbach could move back into the president's role," Olson said.  

However, Bennett hopes Fischbach will be able to do both jobs so they can get back on track for what's most important.

"It could get more political then and I don't just want to see this get political, I want to see it as 'let's do what's best for Minnesotans,'" Bennett said.  

With Smith’s appointment to the U.S. Senate, and Senator Amy Klobuchar already holding a seat, this is the first time in history that Minnesota will have two female senators in Washington D.C.  


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Elise Romas

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