Minnesota Senator Al Franken announced Thursday that he would resign from the Senate in the coming weeks, during a speech on the Senate floor.
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“This decision is not about me, it’s about the people of Minnesota,” Franken said. “It has become clear that I can’t both pursue the Ethics Committee process and at the same time remain an effective senator for them.”
A number of women have accused Franken of unwanted touching. Franken denied some of the incidents and some he said he remembers “very differently.”
On Wednesday, a majority of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said it was time for him to step aside.
His decision to leave Congress will not prompt a special election in Minnesota next November, instead Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, will appoint an interim senator in the meantime.
Following Franken’s announcement Thursday, Gov. Dayton said he has not yet decided who he will appoint to fill the upcoming vacancy, but expects to make his decision known in the “next couple of days.”
Democratic strategists both in Washington, D.C., and Minnesota told ABC News they expect Dayton will chose a woman.
“I think it would be a great opportunity for us,” Alex Boutrous, President of Minnesota’s young democrats, told ABC News. “Especially in light of having a male senator who is stepping down because of sexual harassment allegations, to have a woman replace him would make a statement that not only do we believe women, but we believe in their leadership and we want to empower them to take this role on.”
When Minnesota’s senior senator Amy Klobuchar was elected in 2006, she was the first woman elected to the Senate from the state.
Minnesota’s Lieutenant Governor Tina Flint Smith, is likely at the top of Dayton’s list, several sources have said. Smith was Dayton’s chief of staff before she was his running mate.
However, an interesting wrinkle in local law, wherein the Minnesota senate president becomes lieutenant governor should the lieutenant governor leave could make Smith a less likely candidate. The current senate president is a Republican.