Tina Smith to fill Al Franken’s senate seat

Smith announced she will also run in November’s special election.

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith discusses a new initiative for young women of Minnesota on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2016 at the Veterans Service Building in St. Paul.

Chris Dang

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith discusses a new initiative for young women of Minnesota on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2016 at the Veterans Service Building in St. Paul.

Kelly Busche

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to the U.S. Senate Wednesday, replacing Sen. Al Franken as he prepares to resign amid groping allegations. 

“Though I never anticipated this moment, I am resolved to do everything I can to move Minnesota forward,” Smith said in a speech Wednesday. “Now my job will be to go to Washington D.C. to continue working on behalf of Minnesota and our country.”

In a speech Wednesday, Dayton said Smith will best serve Minnesotans as senator. 

Smith will serve on the U.S. Senate until next November, when she will run in a special election to fill the seat. Franken’s term ends in 2021.

“I will do my best to earn Minnesotan’s support, and I believe the way to do that is by being the best senator that I can be,” Smith said in her speech.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said in a statement Wednesday that Smith was aptly qualified to “hit the ground running.” 

“During her years of experience serving our state, Lt. Gov. Smith has shown herself to be a capable and effective leader who has worked to improve the lives of Minnesotans,” Klobuchar said. 

Franken announced his resignation from the floor of the U.S. Senate on Dec. 7, after a seventh accuser, reported by Politico, accused Franken of forcibly kissing her. 

Smith thanked Franken for his service in Wednesday’s speech, calling him a “champion” for the state. 

Minnesota Senate President Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, will fill Smith’s position as lieutenant governor.