Politicians react to Franken resignation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. Al Franken (DFL-Minn.) announced Thursday he would resign from Congress following sexual misconduct allegations from seven different women.

Franken said on the Senate floor that his resignation would come within the following weeks, but provided no specific date.

When these allegation first came forward on Nov. 16, Franken initially refused to resign, saying he would cooperate with an ethics investigation and work to regain the trust of Minnesotans. But after over 30 Democratic senators called for him to step down, he complied with his party’s demand.

In response to his resignation, several local politicians have responded in favor, including candidates planning on running in 2018.

On Wednesday, several DFL candidates for Minnesota’s First Congressional District, including Rich Wright (Rochester) and Joe Sullivan (Mankato) issued statements calling for Franken’s resignation.

Rich Wright, a Rochester DFL candidate for the Minnesota First Congressional District said in a press release he supports Franken’s decision to resign.

“Sen. Franken’s decision to resign is another example of our society’s growing intolerance toward sexual violence against women. Individuals that commit sexual violence should be afforded no protection in modern society,” Wright said.

Joe Sullivan, a Mankato DFL candidate for the First District made a similar statement.

“The Democratic party must be the party that stands with all victims of harassment and assault, and that starts with holding all of our members to the same standard.”

First District candidate Vicki Jensen said in a statement she would call for Franken’s resignation when Republicans show similar outrage toward Roy Moore and Donald Trump and empathy for their accusers.

Mindy Kimmel, a candidate for the Minnesota House seat in District 16B, also released a statement to the Journal. Kimmel said, “I too have mixed feelings about all that has come to light. Yet, when someone crosses that line, action is needed. There has been a significant number of allegations made regarding many prominent leaders. It is my hope that we can all learn from this and set an example for the change we want to see.”

Kimmel has previously supported the DFL’s position on mandatory sexual harassment training for all candidates and elected officials and the need for a reporting process that keeps victims safe.

No official statements from the Brown County DFL or GOP leaders were submitted but local party leaders did respond with comments.

Brown County DFL leader Lori Sellner said, “I think he made the right decision for Minnesota.”

Sellner admitted it was hard for a lot of Franken’s supporters because of his strong work on progressive issues, but it was still necessary for him to step down.

Sellner believes Minnesota deserves an effective senator, and Franken could no longer fill that role, as this would be a continued distraction. She added that his resignation shows the Democratic Party will not tolerate sexual harassment and assault and is a party of integrity.

Brown County Republican Committee Chair Greg Bartz said of Franken’s resignation, “It was the correct thing to do.”

In light of the many recent allegations of sexual harassment and assault coming forward, Bartz was reminded of the golden rule. “We need to treat people how we want people to treat us.”

Franken’s resignation means Gov. Mark Dayton will name a temporary replacement and the winner of a special election in November 2018 would serve through the end of Franken’s term in January 2021. No official decision has been made on a special appointment at this time.