Ms. Smith goes to Washington

Minnesota Governor Dayton will announce this morning that he has chosen Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith to succeed Al Franken in the Senate upon Franken’s resignation. Franken has stated his intention to resign but left the timing vague. Once Dayton makes his announcement this morning I trust that Franken’s departure will follow in due course. Exit the clown.

Star Tribune reporter Patrick Coolican notes Smith served as Dayton’s first chief of staff after careers at General Mills, Planned Parenthood and the city of Minneapolis, where she served as chief of staff to former Mayor R.T. Rybak. Her educational background includes an undergraduate degree in political science from Stanford and a graduate degree in business administration from Dartmouth’s Tuck School. The site Heavy has more background on Smith here.

I believe that, like Dayton, Smith is a flaky Minneapolis liberal. That is why Dayton thinks so highly of her.

She will stand for election to what would be the remaining two years of Franken’s unexpired term in November 2018. Smith should not be a strong candidate next year. At the same time, however, Amy Klobuchar will stand for reelection and she must be the most popular Democrat in the state. Moreover, gubernatorial and state officials will also be up for election in what promises to be a difficult cycle for Republicans. If 2018 turns out to be a bad year for Republicans, as one might reasonably fear, we could have a Minnesota massacre in reverse.

When Smith resigns her office as lieutenant governor, Republican Senate President Michelle Fishbach is to succeed Smith as lieutenant governor. Republicans hold a one-vote majority in the state senate. Republicans need her vote in the legislature. Can Fishbach serve in both the executive and legislative branches at the same time? The answer seems to be in the affirmative (tweet below courtesy of our friend Howard Root, who observes: “The question seems to come up once every 120 years”).

If Fishbach leaves the Senate, the parties would remain evenly balanced in that body until a special election is held to fill her seat. While Democrats have to worry about Dayton’s health for the remainder of his term, Minnesota Republicans in any event have more than their share of headaches looming on the political horizon.

UPDATE: As expected, Dayton named Smith to succeed Franken at his press conference this morning. Erin Golden’s Star Tribune article is here.

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