Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith is the most likely choice to succeed outgoing Sen. Al Franken, the Star Tribune and Politico reported.
Franken announced his plan to resign Thursday as Senate Democrats pushed him to step down in the wake of several sexual misconduct accusations. Minnesota Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton will pick a successor to serve after Franken resigns in the coming weeks and until a special election next year.
In a statement Thursday, Dayton — a former senator himself — said he expects to “make and announce” his decision on the state’s next senator “in the next couple of days.” He is expected to choose Smith, according to the two reports.
The senator who wins next year’s election would have to run again in 2020, when Franken’s term was set to end.
Republicans likely see opportunity in Minnesota in 2018, when Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar will also have to defend her seat. Hillary Clinton beat President Donald Trump by only 1 percent in the state in last year’s presidential election.
Smith, 59, has served as Minnesota’s lieutenant governor since 2015, according to the state’s website. She was previously Dayton’s chief of staff.
“Tina has focused on building an economy that works for all Minnesotans — championing issues including rural broadband internet access, expanding access to early learning and supporting statewide job creation,” her bio page reads.
Smith has taken a visible role as a proponent for Dayton’s agenda in the state, according to the Star Tribune. She declined to run for governor next year, when Dayton will not seek re-election.
Prior to getting into politics, she worked in marketing at General Mills.
In a statement Thursday, Smith thanked Franken for his service and said she is “thinking today about the many women around the country who have come forward in recent months to share their stories about sexual harassment.”
“Sexual harassment can never be tolerated in our politics, our businesses or anywhere else,” she said.