Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton appoints Tina Smith to US Senate

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday appointed Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to the U.S. Senate, where she’ll replace Sen. Al Franken following his planned resignation after a sexual harassment scandal.

Smith accepted the appointment, thanking Dayton and calling it a “great honor.”

“Though I never anticipated this moment, I am resolved to do everything I can to move Minnesota forward,” Smith said.

Smith also said she would run in the special election in November 2018, as a candidate to serve the final two years of Franken’s current term.

In selecting Smith, the governor is choosing one of his most trusted advisers and someone who has worked for years traveling the state and building relationships with influential DFLers and business leaders.

The pick sets in motion an election cycle that could dramatically alter the state’s political landscape. For the first time in a generation, Minnesota voters will select a new governor and two U.S. senators, high-stakes races in 2018 that are expected to cost tens of millions of dollars.

The selection also means Minnesota will have two female U.S. senators for the first time in history.

Republicans wasted no time going on the attack.

The Minnesota Republican Party referred to Dayton’s choice of Smith as an “underhanded ‘House of Cards’-style move, while the Republican National Committee said Smith has an “inclination for political ladder climbing and raising taxes on Minnesotans throughout her cushy insider career.”

Smith also enters a changing Senate landscape.

Democrat Doug Jones’ victory in Alabama gives his party 49 votes to Republicans’ 51, turning every big vote in 2018 into a nail biter for the GOP. Franken still has not set a departure date, so it is unclear whether he or Smith will be the one voting against the contentious Republican tax bill.

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