Ms. Smith Goes to Washington!

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith will fill Al Franken's U.S. Senate seat.
Lt. Gov. Tina Smith will fill Al Franken's U.S. Senate seat.

Sen. Al Franken announced his decision last week to resign from the U.S. Senate. Today Gov. Mark Dayton chose Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to replace him. AFSCME strongly supports her appointment. Smith will serve until a special election next November, when voters will choose who fills out the remaining two years of Franken’s term.

“There is no one more qualified or capable than Tina Smith to represent all Minnesotans in the United States Senate,” says Judy Wahlberg, president of AFSCME Council 5. “Tina’s entire career has prepared her for this job at a time when all of us need more strong women in the halls of power.

“Tina is a proven champion for women and working families. She has worked tirelessly for paid parental leave and pay equity. Thanks to Tina, parents can bond with their newborns and women are treated as equals in state service. We need her voice in Washington.”

Tina Smith’s selection means Minnesota will have two women senators for the first time in history.

The only concern with appointing Smith is that the state constitution calls for the president of the Senate to fill the post of lieutenant governor if it becomes vacant. Senate President Michelle Fischbach, a Paynesville Republican, says she expects to keep her spot in the Senate when she becomes lieutenant governor, a move likely to be challenged by Democrats.

As lieutenant governor, Fischbach would become governor if Dayton had to vacate his office before his term ends in January 2019. But AFSCME has complete confidence in Gov. Dayton and his determination to remain healthy.

Gov. Dayton says, “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. I know that she will be a superb Senator, representing the best interests of our state and our citizens.” 

Tina Smith will resign as lieutenant governor prior to being sworn into the U.S. Senate, following Sen. Franken’s formal resignation.

“I accept this appointment,” said Smith. “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 for all Minnesotans.”

Tina Smith has transformed the role of lieutenant governor. She is one of Gov. Dayton’s most trusted advisors and a proven advocate for AFSCME members and the work we do. She has traveled the state and built strong relationships with working people everywhere she goes. In recent years, Smith has become nearly as much the face of the administration as Dayton himself.

Smith is a tireless campaigner and says she plans to run for the senate seat in a 2018 special election. The winner of that election will be expected to run again for the full six-year term in 2020. Republicans are recruiting former GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty to challenge Smith.

Read Tina Smith’s full statement.

Learn about Tina Smith’s work on behalf of Minnesotans

Learn more about the appointment process and the line of succession for lieutenant governor.