On Air
0:00
0:00
Open In Popup
MPR News

Replacing Franken: Who's in, who's out, who's being talked about

Share story

Al Franken
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., leaves the Capitol after speaking on the Senate floor, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Andrew Harnik | Associated Press 2017

Updated: Feb. 6, 2018 | Posted: Dec. 7, 2017

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken officially resigned from the Senate in January, following a string of allegations of sexual misconduct against him. 

Gov. Mark Dayton chose now former Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to replace Franken in the U.S. Senate. Smith was sworn in as the state's junior senator Jan. 3, and announced she will run for the seat as well in this year's election.

Politicians on both sides are making moves to position their candidates for the special election.

Here's a look at who has announced their bid, who has said they aren't interested and names that are being floated around Minnesota's political sphere. (Keep checking back on this story for updates.)

Who's in:

• Lt. Gov. Tina Smith

• State Sen. Karin Housley

• Bob Anderson, a dental technician from Hastings

• Minneapolis attorney Nick Leonard

Who's out:

• Former Sen. Norm Coleman

• Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty

• U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer

• Former U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann

• U.S. Rep. Tim Walz 

Potential candidates

• State House Speaker Kurt Daudt

• Duluth Mayor Emily Larson

• State Rep. Erin Murphy

• Attorney General Lori Swanson

Who's in

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith speaks after being appointed to the U.S. Senate.
Lt. Gov. Tina Smith speaks after being appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton to the U.S. Senate, where she'll replace Sen. Al Franken, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017 in St. Paul, Minn.
Brian Peterson | Star Tribune 2017

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith: Smith, a Democrat, has served as Minnesota's 48th lieutenant governor since January 2015. After Dayton announced Smith as Franken's temporary replacement she announced she would be running for the permanent position next year. "Though I never anticipated this moment, I'm resolved to do everything I can to move Minnesota forward," Smith told reporters. Smith has been at the forefront on several administration priorities, including rural broadband expansion, early childhood education and economic development. She leads the Destination Medical Center initiative, a public-private economic development partnership in Rochester, Minn. 

State Sen. Karin Housley, R-St. Marys Point.
State Sen. Karin Housley, R-St. Marys Point, said she will seek the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Al Franken.
Brian Bakst | MPR News

State Sen. Karin Housley: Housley is the first Republican to declare a candidacy in the special election. Housley, of St. Marys Point, has been in the state Senate since 2013 and ran once before for statewide office, albeit briefly. In an interview, she described herself as a "hockey mom" with experience in the public and private sectors. She said she has a track record of working across party lines, something she said is sorely missing in Washington.

Bob Anderson: Anderson, a Republican and dental technician from Hastings, announced his candidacy Jan. 17. Anderson was an Independence Party congressional candidate in Minnesota's 6th District in 2008 and 2010. He said he's running for the U.S. Senate as a political outsider and an enthusiastic supporter of President Trump.

Minneapolis attorney Nick Leonard: Leonard announced he will seek the DFL endorsement for the Senate seat, but will also run in the primary if he loses.

Who's out

Norm Coleman
Former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman in the lobby of his Washington, D.C., lobbying firm.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

Former Sen. Norm Coleman: Coleman posted on his personal Facebook page that he won't run in 2018. He lost to Franken in a close 2008 election in which the vote count dragged on for months.

Tim Pawlenty preps for his speech
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty looks over the main stage during a sound check at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012.
J. Scott Applewhite | AP 2012

Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty: Pawlenty had been weighing a return to elected office since he chose not to seek a third term as governor in 2010, and after mounting an unsuccessful campaign for the presidential nomination. But on Jan. 16, Pawlenty  announced he would not be running for Senate in 2018 during an interview on the Fox Business Network. "I'm interested in continuing to serve, but there are a variety of ways to do that, running for U.S. Senate won't be one of them," he said.

Tom Emmer waves to the crowd at the Delano 4th of July Parade.
Rep. Tom Emmer waves to the crowd as he runs up and down the street during the Delano 4th of July Parade in Delano, Minn. on Tuesday, July 4, 2017.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2017

Rep. Tom Emmer: Emmer announced he'll seek re-election in Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District and made it clear he will not be a candidate this year for governor or a Minnesota U.S. Senate seat.

Rep. Michele Bachmann
Then Rep. Michele Bachmann spoke at a rally against Obama's executive order on immigration on Wed., Dec. 3, 2014 in front of the Capitol.
Brett Neely / MPR News 2014

Former Rep. Michelle Bachmann: Bachmann said in January that she hadn't ruled out a run for Senate and that she was still considering her options. But in a radio interview in February she ruled out a run, saying she didn't have any "sense from the Lord" that she should try for the seat.

Walz took questions from an overflow crowd.
Minnesota First District Congressman Tim Walz took questions from an overflow crowd of constituents at Rochester Community and Technical College. February 23, 2017.
Jerry Olson for MPR News 2017

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz: Walz, a six-term congressman, is currently running for governor of Minnesota.

Potential candidates

Kurt Daudt is elected Speaker of the House.
House district 31A Representative Kurt Daudt stands for applause on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017 in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2017

State House Speaker Kurt Daudt: Daudt has been openly considering a bid for governor for months and could be in a good position to switch to a Senate bid.

Emily Larson
Emily Larson, mayor of Duluth, talks about the challenges, issues and roles she'll be taking on when she becomes Duluth's mayor on January 4, 2016.
Derek Montgomery | MPR 2016

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson: Larson's name was floated by former Duluth Mayor Don Ness in a tweet. "An accomplished leader from Greater Minnesota and one of the most naturally talented elected officials I know. A lot of great options out there — Emily is among the best," Ness wrote.

Erin Murphy
In this Sept. 9, 2013 photo, Democratic House Majority Leader Erin Murphy addresses the Minnesota House in St. Paul, Minn.
Jim Mone| AP 2013

State Rep. Erin Murphy: Like Walz, Murphy is currently campaigning in the governor's race — she was the first to announce candidacy. Murphy has served five terms in the Minnesota House, including stints as majority leader and deputy minority leader.

Lori Swanson
In this May 31, 2014 photo, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson addresses the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Convention in Duluth, Minn.
Jim Mone | AP 2014

Attorney General Lori Swanson: Swanson has kept her 2018 political ambitions quiet, but it was long speculated that she would run for governor — a bid for the Senate seat is also possible.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.