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Gov. Mark Dayton won’t talk U.S. Senate pick

December 8, 2017 GMT

Gov. Mark Dayton said Friday morning that he will name a new U.S. senator “in a couple days” but declined to talk about who it might be.

Democratic Sen. Al Franken’s upcoming resignation leaves Minnesota’s governor with a big job: picking a replacement. Franken said Thursday that he would leave the Senate “in the coming weeks” after he was engulfed in controversy over allegations he groped and kissed women without their consent.

“I won’t have any comments on it until I have an announcement to make, it will be in a couple days and that’s where I’m going to leave it for now,” Dayton told reporters Friday morning after he spoke at a Final Four-related event in Minneapolis.

Democratic sources have told the Star Tribune that Dayton’s most likely choice for the Senate seat is Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, a longtime DFL insider and trusted ally to Dayton. The idea is that Smith would hold the seat only until the end of 2018, and not run in next November’s special election to fill it. That would leave an open field that could draw names from both the Minnesota DFL and GOP.

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But Dayton was unwilling to talk in depth about his thought process.

“I want someone who will be a great United States senator for Minnesota and there are a number of people who fit that bill,” Dayton said.

If Dayton were to pick Smith, then a Republican state senator would become the new lieutenant governor. Sen. Michelle Fischbach of Paynesville, a 20-year veteran of the Legislature, currently holds the position of Senate president, which is first in the line of succession if the lieutenant governor quits.

Erin Golden • 612-673-4790