Speed Reads

Tea Leaves

If Al Franken resigns, get ready for Sen. Tina Smith

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is announcing his retirement — or not — on the Senate floor Thursday. Franken's team pushed back against a Minnesota Public Radio report that Franken is resigning, saying "Franken is talking with his family at this time" and "any reports of a final decision are inaccurate." If Franken steps down, as the majority of his Democratic colleagues are urging amid a growing number of sexual harassment allegations, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) will name his replacement. And he would probably pick Lt. Gov. Tina Smith (D), Politico reports, citing three people familiar with Dayton's thinking.

[Smith] "really gets Minnesota, she gets the players, she has great built-up relationships," a Democratic operative tells Politico. "She makes practical sense, and she would be a good bridge builder." But her main attribute is that she almost certainly won't want to run for the seat in a 2018 special election, Politico says, leaving a level playing field for Democrats who might be interested in running. Possible contenders include Rep. Keith Ellison, deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and Rep. Tim Walz. It would also give Republicans an unexpected shot to pick up what was, until Franken's swift fall from grace, a safe seat.