UPDATE: Franken praises Smith; still no date to leave - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Franken praises Smith; still no date to leave

Posted:
ST PAUL, Minn. (AP) -

11:50 a.m.

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken says Tina Smith will be an "excellent" U.S. senator in his place.

But Franken still isn't setting a date when he'll step down. Franken aid last week that he would depart "in coming weeks" after he was accused by several women of improper conduct.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday appointed Smith, his lieutenant governor, to fill fellow Democrat Franken's seat until a special election next November.

Franken issued a written statement calling Smith a "dedicated public servant" who can work across party lines. He says he'll work with her on a fast transition.

11:25 a.m.

Minnesota Republicans are accusing Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton of trying to disrupt their state Senate majority with his appointment to the U.S. Senate.

Dayton chose his lieutenant governor, Tina Smith, to take fellow Democrat Al Franken's spot in the Senate. Under Minnesota law, the Minnesota Senate president moves up to become lieutenant governor.

The current state Senate president is a Republican, and the GOP has a one-vote majority in the chamber. There's some dispute over whether that senator has to leave her seat to serve as lieutenant governor -- and it could wind up in court.

Dayton is taking a risk by having a Republican as his No. 2. He has battled a litany of health problems in recent years, including cancer, and anything that knocks him out of office in the final year of his term would hand power to Republicans.

11:05 a.m.

Minnesota's next U.S. senator says she's proud of her time working as a Planned Parenthood executive.

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith was named Wednesday to replace fellow Democrat Al Franken in the Senate. Franken announced his resignation last week amid growing sexual misconduct allegations.

Smith has been a longtime adviser to Gov. Mark Dayton and other government officials. She previously served as a vice president for Planned Parenthood in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Smith said Wednesday that she helped provide health care and treatment to thousands of women. She says she's proud of that work.

But her time there is likely to become a flashpoint when she runs for the seat in 2018. Republicans pointed to her past with the abortion provider during the 2014 campaign.

10:45 a.m.

Minnesota's next U.S. senator, Tina Smith, says she "shouldn't be underestimated" in a special election next year to complete the last two years of Democratic Sen. Al Franken's term.

Smith, Minnesota's Democratic lieutenant governor, was appointed Wednesday by Gov. Mark Dayton to fill Franken's seat until that special election.

Smith passed up an expected run for governor last spring, raising questions about whether she's prepared for a grueling Senate fight.

When Smith was asked at a news conference about raising millions for the race, she shot back sharply, "I shouldn't be underestimated and if I weren't confident, I wouldn't be doing this."

10:15 a.m.

The woman who has been appointed to Minnesota Sen. Al Franken's seat says she will also run in a special election next year to complete Franken's term.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday announced that Lt. Gov. Tina Smith would fill Franken's seat until the November election.

Smith said at a news conference, "I will run in that election and I will do my best to earn Minnesotans' support."

National Democrats had pressed Dayton to appoint someone who would benefit from the appointment in next year's special election, rather than just a placeholder.

Franken announced last week he would resign over allegations of improper behavior from several women. His term runs through 2020.

Smith served as Dayton's trusted chief of staff for three years before ascending to become his No. 2.

10 a.m.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has appointed Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to fill Sen. Al Franken's seat until the November election.

Dayton's announcement Wednesday had been widely expected. Smith served as Dayton's trusted chief of staff for three years before ascending to become his No. 2.

She was once considered a likely candidate to succeed him, but had announced in the spring that she wouldn't run for governor. However, she is expected to run in the November special election to complete Franken's term through 2020. Dayton had come under intense pressure from top Democrats in Washington to appoint someone who wouldn't merely serve as a seat-warmer.

Franken announced last week he would resign over allegations of improper behavior from several women. He hasn't yet set a date to leave Congress.

8 a.m.

A Democratic operative with knowledge of the appointment says Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has chosen Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to fill Sen. Al Franken's seat until the November election -- and Smith will run in that election to complete Franken's term through 2020.

The operative spoke on condition of anonymity because the operative wasn't authorized to speak ahead of an official announcement, scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday in St. Paul.

A senior Democratic aide in the Senate also confirmed Smith as the appointee, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person wasn't authorized to talk publicly ahead of the announcement.

Smith was Dayton's chief of staff before she ascended to become his running mate in the 2014 election. She was the presumed front-runner from the moment Franken announced last week he would step down over allegations of sexual misconduct.

He hasn't yet set a date to leave Congress.

Minnesota Public Radio and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, citing Democratic sources they did not name, also reported that Smith was the choice.

12:02 a.m.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is set to name his choice to replace Al Franken in the U.S. Senate, with the top contender seen as Democratic Lt. Gov. Tina Smith.

Dayton was expected to make the appointment Wednesday, nearly a week after Franken announced his plan to resign over allegations of sexual misconduct.

Dayton's pick will serve until a special election next year to decide who completes Franken's term ending in 2020.

Smith didn't respond to messages Tuesday seeking comment about the possible appointment.

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