Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith to replace Franken: report

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(Reuters) – Minnesota’s governor will appoint Democratic Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith as U.S. senator to replace Al Franken, who resigned after being accused of sexual harassment, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported on Wednesday, citing sources.

FILE PHOTO: Minnesota Lt. Governor Tina Smith waves to journalists at the end of a news conference in a Hotel in Havana, Cuba, June 22, 2017. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini/File Photo

Governor Mark Dayton will announce the appointment on Wednesday morning, and Smith, 59, will run in a special election for the seat next year, the newspaper said.

Calls to Dayton‘s, Smith’s and Franken’s offices were not immediately returned.

Smith became lieutenant governor in January 2015. The Star Tribune said she previously worked as Dayton’s chief of staff and held positions at General Mills and Planned Parenthood.

Last week Franken, 66, also a Democrat, announced his resignation from the seat he has held since 2009. The former comedian has denied some of the allegations against him and questioned others. Reuters has not independently verified the accusations against Franken.

Minnesota will soon have two women senators, as Smith will join fellow Democrat Amy Klobuchar, 57, who became the state’s first woman senator after winning election a year ago.

The Republican Party’s slim majority in the Senate will not be affected by the move to replace Franken.

Democrats will gain a seat to cut Republican’s majority in the 100-member Senate to 51 after Tuesday night’s victory by Doug Jones over Republican candidate Roy Moore in a special election in Alabama.

Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Editing by Bill Trott

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