Embattled Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, a Democrat who rose to national prominence with a career in comedy and then politics, announced his intent to resign from the United States Senate on Thursday, Dec. 7. Franken addressed his colleagues and the press from the floor of the Senate Chambers, saying he will step aside “within a few weeks.”
More than a half dozen women had come forward accusing the state’s junior Senator of misconduct, from groping and fondling to “forceable kissing.” The most recent accusation, from a colleague at a Minnesota radio station that once featured Franken as its “headliner” prior to his running for public office, caused more than 20 Democratic Senators to ask Franken to step down. That scenario unfolded on Wednesday, Dec. 6 after other women had come forth in late November to say Franken had acted inappropriately on USO Tours and while a comedian and writer at Saturday Night Live.
Gov. Mark Dayton will appoint a Senator to fill the seat, presumably until the mid-term elections in November. Analysts believe Lt. Gov. Tina Smith will be appointed to fill out the term. That seat will again be up for election in 2020, when Franken would have face re-election.
Republicans have been asking for Franken to step aside after the first allegations, made by a Los Angeles radio personality and former model, emerged around the Thanksgiving holiday. They pointed to Franken’s sharp criticism of other politicians and entertainers – mainly men – who made headlines in 2017 after accusers stepped forward in sexual harassment incidents.
Congressman Tom Emmer, a Republican from Wright County who represented this area in both the State Legislature and now in the US House, said Franken made the correct choice in stepping aside.
“I am pleased Senator Franken made the right decision for the great state of Minnesota and our country,” Emmer said. “Elected officials hold the trust of the constituents they represent, and it is crucial we cherish and honor that trust. I am hopeful this will move our society towards better behavior.”