According to numerous reports, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has appointed Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith to fill the U.S. Senate seat that former Senator Al Franken recently resigned. The governor made the announcement in a statement on Wednesday.
Minnesota will become the fourth state represented by two women, joining California, Washington and New Hampshire. While Franken’s term was to last until 2020, Smith will only hold the office until a special election next year. The state’s other female senator, Amy Klobuchar, is also up for reelection next year, and she has already said that she plans to run again.
Minnesota Democrats are excited by the prospect of having two women on the top of the ballot next year. Ken Martin, who’s the chairman of Minnesota’s Democratic Party said that the state “is going to be the epicenter of politics next year.”
The appointment caps a meteoric rise for Smith. She joined the Dayton administration in 2010 as chief of staff, and in 2015 became the state’s lieutenant governor.
Smith was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1958, and she worked on the Alaskan Pipeline prior to attending Stanford University, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. She further earned an MBA from Dartmouth College.
She moved to Minnesota in the 1980s, and she worked in marketing for General Mills. She then started her own marketing company, and was vice-president of Planned Parenthood for Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Her first foray into politics came as chief of staff to Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak. She further ran his unsuccessful campaign for governor before joining Dayton in Saint Paul.
Smith says she plans to be “a fierce advocate in the United States Senate for economic opportunity and fairness for all Minnesotans.”