On Wednesday, embattled Democrat Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota tweeted that he will make an announcement on Thursday. While the tweet did not elaborate as to the contents of that announcement, Franken was called upon by 14 Democrats in the Senate and the chairman of the Democratic National Committee to step down in the wake of various allegations of sexual improprieties. Should he resign, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) would appoint a temporary replacement to fill the seat until November 2018, at which time there would be a special election held to fill the final two years of Franken’s unfulfilled term. The next election for a full six-year term would be held in 2020.

There are various possible candidates for the liberal Democrat governor to consider. Dayton is not running for re-election. Because the Democratic Party may seek to mend fences with its female constituents by fielding a woman for the slot, among the possibilities are Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, who has declined to run for governor in the 2018 race. State Auditor Rebecca Otto, while she is a declared gubernatorial candidate, could also be persuaded to take the job. State Rep. Erin Murphy is also a possibility: serving liberal St. Paul, she has been a majority leader in the state house and a union organizer and lobbyist. 

However, Rep. Keith Ellison -- the first Muslim to serve in Congress, is also a possibility. A leftist member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Ellison is also currently a deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee who has significant national appeal among progressives.  Ellison has called President Donald Trump a "racist" while also demanding the president's impeachment. Of late, Ellison also denounced Trump's decision to re-locate the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to Israel's capital, Jerusalem.

Al Franken was elected in November 2008 in an election that was so close that it required investigations and court decisions. After a nearly eight-month legal battle, Franken took the oath of office in July 2009. Following his defeat of Republican Norm Coleman by just 215, Franken faced a mandatory recount. The State Canvassing Board, after reviewing challenged ballots and counting 953 wrongly rejected absentee ballots, certified the recount results of a 225-vote lead for Franken. 

In January 2009, the Coleman campaign contested the election but a three-judge panel dismissed the Notice of Contest in April of that year, ruling that Franken had won the election by 312 votes. An appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court was unanimously rejected in June 2009. Coleman then conceded the election and former entertainer Franken was sworn in as Senator on July 7, 2009. Seating Franken became crucial for Republicans because Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania had changed his affiliation from Republican to Democrat just two months before, allowing the Democrats a sufficient majority to overcome a Republican filibuster.

Two years later, in July 2010, the Minnesota Majority watchdog group released a study that flagged 2,803 voters for examination including 1,359 possibly ineligible convicts in the liberal Minneapolis-St. Paul area who were suspected of voting illegally in the Senate race. After investigation, Ramsey County officials narrowed their investigation to 180 cases, while Hennepin County examined 216 cases. At the time Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) said that the group had found “credible evidence” about ineligible felons, expressing the suspicion that they voted for Franken. Pawlenty said, I don’t know that, but if that turned out to be true, they may have flipped the election.”[

Election shenanigans

Republican gubernatorial candidates remain concerned about possible voter fraud. All four Republicans are calling for voters to show identification at the polls. The proposal was defeated in a 2012 statewide vote. Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, former Republican Party chair Keith Downey, state Rep. Matt Dean, and state Sen. Dave Osmek contend that the proposed constitutional amendment failed because of inadequate campaigning. Dean said that the only way to know for certain that voter fraud is not prevalent is to add the requirement. “Because there are a lot of people that believe cheating is going on, if there’s a way to address that without disenfranchising people, we ought to do that,” Johnson said this week on Minnesota Public Radio.

Liberal groups, such as TakeAction Minnesota, could disenfranchise minorities, disabled people and the elderly.

Dem 'helps out' voters at polls

Republicans can point to St. Paul City Councilmember Dai Thao, who is being investigated for “helping” a voter at the poll, as evidence that some Democrats engage in improper election behavior. Following his defeat in St. Paul’s mayoral race in November, Thao is facing a criminal investigation for assisting a voter with casting a vote. The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office is investigating. The complaint was filed by Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky. Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek is a Republican darling because of his stance on illegal immigration that is at odds with Gov. Dayton -- a staunch advocate of “sanctuary” for illegal aliens.



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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