Franken starts staff with Morris alum

Franken announced his choice even though he has yet to be officially seated.

Democrat Al Franken announced Monday that University of Minnesota-Morris alumna Alana Petersen will be his choice for Minnesota State Director in his Senate office, despite not being officially seated. Franken was declared the winner of MinnesotaâÄôs second U.S. Senate seat by a three-judge panel last week, but his Republican opponent Norm Coleman announced Monday he would appeal the decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court and Franken has yet to receive a signed election certificate. Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Ron Carey released a statement Monday criticizing the announcement, calling it a âÄúpublicity stunt.âÄù âÄúThe truth could never be clearer that Al Franken has decided that 4,400 Minnesota voters are disposable,âÄù he said. âÄúWhile the due process and equal protection rights of our fellow citizens are being denied, Al Franken is determined to thumb his nose at the Minnesota Supreme Court.âÄù In a news release from FrankenâÄôs campaign, Petersen, who graduated from Morris in 1991 with a political science degree, said she is âÄúthrilledâÄù to join FrankenâÄôs team because she said âÄúhe’ll be the kind of senator who works hard on behalf of every Minnesotan.âÄù Al Franken praised PetersenâÄôs âÄúwealth of experience and her ability to reach out to every constituency in MinnesotaâÄù in the release, and said they will be working together to âÄúensure we hit the ground running on Day One.âÄù If Franken is seated Petersen will manage the state office, which is intended to serve as a link between the constituents in Minnesota and FrankenâÄôs national office in Washington D.C., Franken spokesperson Jess McIntosh said. âÄúWhen any Minnesotan needs help dealing with the federal government, like a social security check, a passport, veterans who might need assistance, small businesses that need loans, the state office of a senator is where they can go,âÄù McIntosh said. âÄúItâÄôs how Minnesotans can be sure they have a voice in Washington.âÄù Prior to joining FrankenâÄôs staff, Petersen worked for multiple members of Congress, including Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn. , where she worked as the political director and director of field operations. Oberstar spokesman Jim Schadl said Petersen worked on constituent outreach and organizing in the southern part of OberstarâÄôs district. âÄúSheâÄôs a very seasoned, very experienced, very sharp person,âÄù Schadl said. âÄúCertainly this is a very good choice by Mr. FrankenâÄù Though it may seem strange for Franken to begin filling out his staff before he has been certified as the election winner, University political science professor Kathryn Pearson said the decision âÄúmakes senseâÄù given the extended nature of the recount. Franken wonâÄôt have the normal two-month grace period between the November elections and starting work in Washington in January to fill his staff, Pearson said, so FrankenâÄôs camp is doing what it can to prepare to take office. âÄúIt will remind people of the recent ruling and that heâÄôs ready to go and Minnesota doesnâÄôt have a senator yet,âÄù she said.