Gov. Mark Dayton announced today he will appoint Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, a Fulton resident, to fill U.S. Sen. Al Franken’s vacated seat. Smith said that following her appointment, she would run for Senate in a special election in November 2018.
Dayton said he chose Smith because she was the best person for the job.
“Tina Smith is a person of the highest integrity and ability. There is no one I trust more to assume the responsibilities of this important office,” Dayton said in a statement.
On Dec. 7, Franken announced his resignation “in the coming weeks” after multiple women alleged unwanted sexual contact by the senator.
Prior to working in the Governor’s office, Smith served as chief of staff for former Mayor R.T. Rybak. Her experience includes positions at General Mills, the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline, a national strategy and media production company, Planned Parenthood and campaigns for candidates including Amy Klobuchar and Walter Mondale.
Smith said in an interview last year that she looks for common ground between political parties.
“People don’t always agree on everything, but you’ve got to find that place where they can agree,” she said.
Smith said at a press conference Wednesday there is much work to do in the Senate, citing challenges in housing, access to preschool, affordable health care, the future of the Iron Range and income gaps between men and women.
“I will do this in my own way, using my own best judgment and experience, but always with Minnesotans in mind,” she said. “…Though I never anticipated this moment, I am resolved to do everything I can to move Minnesota forward. I will be a fierce advocate in the United States Senate for economic opportunity and fairness.”