Senator Al Franken returned to work in Washington, D.C. Monday, 11 days after allegations of sexual misconduct were made against him.
"Listen I know I have a lot of work to do to regain the trust of people I've let down," he said.
Despite the allegations, many Minnesota Democrats who supported Franken in the last election shared a similar reaction when they first heard the allegations of sexual misconduct:
"It's so sad."
"You know you want to have a hero. And it's a kick in the teeth when you thought you had one," said Mary Helf, a retired 67-year-old court administrator for the state of Minnesota who lives in Duluth.
Helf said she doesn't want to give Franken a free pass. But she also doesn't want him to resign.
"I think he should talk about this often, and show us he can do better," she said. "I think everybody deserves a chance."
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In response to a query sent out by MPR News, a lot of Minnesota Democrats said they shared Helf's sentiments. They say they're shocked and disappointed in Franken, who has been accused by four women of touching them inappropriately while getting their picture taken with him, and during a tour in support of American troops in 2006. But many don't feel he should step down, at least not yet.
Christine Sorensen, a 68-year-old Catholic pastoral minister from St. Paul, said when the allegations first surfaced, she called Franken's office to tell him how disappointed she was. But she's pleased with his response.
"I thought he really handled it very well, he took responsibility right away. He apologized. He didn't say she was lying, which seems to be a common response these days to allegations," Sorensen said.
Sorensen then called Franken's office again, to tell him he still had to work to regain people's confidence.
"But that he still had my support," she said.
58-year-old Teresa Manzella of Maplewood expressed a similar sentiment. She said asking Franken to resign rewards people like Alabama Republican Senate Candidate Roy Moore, who has repeatedly denied allegations of sexual assault.
"Should we punish the person who says, I'm not going to call anybody a liar, I'm going to take these allegations seriously, we're going to look into them? Because, if we do that, then we're rewarding the guys who say, no, they're all liars, this is all made up, I never did such a thing," Manzella said.
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Manzella, like several Democrats who responded to the query, also questions the timing of the allegations. She said it's important for Franken to remain in office during the debate over tax reform, and net neutrality, an issue Franken has championed. Others say he's a leading advocate for women in the Senate.
Carla Kjellberg, a 60-year-old attorney from Minneapolis who describes herself as a progressive Democrat, understands the political argument for Franken staying in office. But she said what Franken did crosses the line of respectful behavior towards women.
"And if we want to be the party that says we're standing for women, we will not tolerate abuse, pedophilia, harassment or groping, then we have to draw the line, we have to draw a clear line, because if we don't, the other side will blur it," she said.
Kjellberg said there has to be a zero tolerance policy toward sexual harrassment.
"And so the only way to end this behavior, the only way for me to really look at my daughter, and say, no honey I was serious, you don't have to accept this, and you'll be ok, is for me to say there has to be a line in the sand and this cannot be tolerated," Kjellberg said.
The conundrum for Democrats, Kjellberg said, is that Franken has evolved into an extremely effective senator, who has championed women's rights. But she said she's confident that if Franken stepped down, Governor Mark Dayton would appoint someone in his place who would also be a strong advocate for women.
For his part Franken says he's going to keep doing his job. He said there's work to be done right now on tax legislation. And he said he'll try to be "productive," in the way he speaks about this.