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MN Gov to Name Franken's Replacement   12/13 06:27

   ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton was set to reveal his 
choice Wednesday to replace Al Franken in the U.S. Senate, with the top 
contender seen as his longtime adviser Lt. Gov. Tina Smith.

   Dayton has declined to answer questions about the appointment since Franken 
announced his impending resignation last week following allegations of sexual 
misconduct. In making the appointment, Dayton was weighing a short-term 
replacement against pressure from top Democrats in Washington to name someone 
who would run in 2018 in a special election to complete Franken's term ending 
in 2020.

   A Democratic official told The Associated Press last week that Dayton was 
ready to choose Smith as a placeholder before being pressured 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 the coming weeks.

   Smith, 59, a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, arrived in Minnesota in 1984 
to take a marketing job with General Mills. She grew more political active in 
the 1990s, founding her own marketing and political consulting firm and 
eventually managing Walter Mondale's unsuccessful 2002 Senate run as well as 
his son Ted Mondale's 1998 governor for candidate --- also unsuccessful.

   She also served as a vice president of external affairs for Planned 
Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, from 2003 to 2006. After 
that, she served as chief of staff to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak before 
taking the same job with Dayton.

   The special election for Franken's seat is certain to be a closely watched 
and expensive race for what amounts to a swing seat. Republicans have already 
floated the possibility that former two-term Gov. Tim Pawlenty will run, giving 
them a widely known candidate who can raise plenty of money.

   In a sign of Pawlenty's potential political strength, a top 
Democratic-allied interest group, Alliance for a Better Minnesota, last month 
paid for a poll attacking him at a time when he was said to be considering a 
run for governor.

   Pawlenty deflected questions about a Senate run Tuesday in an appearance on 
CNN, where he weighed in on the Alabama Senate race against Republican Roy 
Moore's candidacy. Moore narrowly lost the race to Democrat Doug Jones.


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