Gov. Dayton to name Franken replacement

ST. PAUL (AP) — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton was set to appoint a replacement today for Sen. Al Franken amid pressure to choose someone who could keep the seat in Democratic hands in a special election next November.

An announcement from Dayton’s office Tuesday said nothing about his choice, and Dayton has deflected questions about the appointment since Franken announced last week he would step down following allegations of sexual misconduct.

Tina Smith, Dayton’s lieutenant governor and trusted former chief of staff, was widely considered his first choice. A Democratic official told The Associated Press last week that Dayton was ready to choose Smith as a placeholder before coming under pressure from national Democrats to appoint someone who could leverage the appointment into a 2018 run.

That official and a second Democratic operative said that Smith was considering a 2018 run amid that pressure. Both Democrats spoke on condition of anonymity to speak freely about private discussions ahead of an announcement.

Smith, who earlier this year passed up an expected campaign for governor, did not immediately respond to telephone messages Tuesday. She has not responded to questions about the appointment since Franken announced plans to resign in coming weeks.

Smith, 59, a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, arrived in Minnesota in 1984 to take a marketing job with General Mills.

She became increasingly politically active in the 1990s, founding a marketing and political consulting firm in 1992. She managed the unsuccessful 1998 gubernatorial campaign of former Vice President Walter Mondale’s son, Ted Mondale, and did the same for the elder Mondale’s abbreviated Senate campaign in 2002 after Sen. Paul Wellstone’s sudden death.