For the first time in decades, both of Minnesota’s U.S. Senate seats are up for re-election at the same time. Sen. Al Franken stepped down in January 2018 after allegations of sexual harassment. Gov. Mark Dayton then appointed his Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to the vacant seat. Dayton has called on his close ally before, in 2014 he added her to his ticket after she served as chief of staff. Smith admits she first laughed when Dayton asked her about running for office. She says like many women, she had to be convinced to run. When Franken resigned, Smith admits “I had to make a move quickly. I tell you, that felt like a leap of faith.” Now the Democrat is seeking to retain her seat.
President Trump Stumps in State
The race brought President Donald Trump to Minnesota. He went off script in his rally, calling Republican challenger Karin Housley up on to stage. The state senator told the crowd that the president said “Tina Smith way too many time. We need to say Karin Housley.” Trump had joked that hadn’t even heard of Smith in the Senate. Housley has been working to build her name identification statewide by running ads with with her Hockey Hall of Fame husband Phil Housley. Sen. Housley chairs the Aging Committee in the State Legislature and led a bill aimed at addressing elder abuse that didn’t become law after Gov. Dayton’s veto.