MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The reaction to Sen. Al Franken’s announcement that he would be stepping down in the coming weeks was swift from fellow Minnesota politicians.
Senior Sen. Amy Klobuchar said, “As he and I discussed yesterday, this is the right decision.”
She added: “In every workplace in America, including the U.S. Senate, we must confront the challenges of harassment and misconduct. Nothing is easy or pleasant about this, but we all must recognize that our workplace cultures — and the way we treat each other as human beings — must change.”
Gov. Mark Dayton, who is now tasked with finding a replacement to fill Franken’s seat, released the following statement:
“I extend my deepest regrets to the women, who have had to endure their unwanted experiences with Senator Franken. As a personal friend, my heart also goes out to Al and his family during this difficult time.
“In other respects, Al Franken has been an outstanding Senator. He has been, as Senator Paul Wellstone used to say, ‘A Senator from the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.’ He is very smart, very hard-working, and very committed to Minnesota. I wish him well in his future endeavors.
“Events have unfolded quickly; thus, I have not yet decided on my appointment to fill this upcoming vacancy. I expect to make and announce my decision in the next couple of days.
“I will have no further comments on this subject until that time.”
Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, who some are already speculating is at the top of the list to be appointed to Franken’s seat, added her own statement:
“Senator Franken has been a servant to the people of Minnesota, and a champion for working people during his time in the Senate. I thank him for his service. On this difficult day, I am holding Senator Franken, his family, and those who have worked beside him over the last decade to make this country a better place, in my thoughts.
“I also am thinking today about the many women around the country who have come forward in recent months to share their stories about sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can never be tolerated in our politics, our businesses, or anywhere else.
“Now, it is on all of us to come together and make the progress necessary to live up to the values we believe in. Governor Dayton and I remain committed to ensuring that Minnesota is a place where everyone has the opportunity to realize their full potential.”
Rep. Betty McCollum said, “Today is a sad day for Minnesota. Senator Al Franken has been more than a colleague — he has been a friend and an ally on the issues that are most important to Minnesota families. Al’s voice and vote were instrumental in extending health care to millions of Americans, helping our students succeed, and upholding our commitments to tribal nations. As we move forward, I know that Governor Mark Dayton will appoint a qualified person to serve Minnesotans in the Senate. I look forward to working with our new Senator to help Minnesota families and stand up to President Trump and the Republicans’ divisive agenda.”
Rep. Collin Peterson said, “The behavior described in these continued allegations is out of line and unacceptable. Senator Franken is making the right choice by resigning.”
Rep. Tim Walz said, “Like many Minnesotans, I have been deeply disappointed by the serious allegations against Senator Franken. I have served with Senator Franken for eight years in the U.S. Congress and he has accomplished a lot of good for Minnesotans. But I believe the pattern of his behavior is unacceptable and his ability to continue to effectively serve Minnesotans has been irreparably compromised. For the good of Minnesotans and the American people, I believe Senator Franken has made the right decision in stepping aside.”
Responses also came from those on the other side of the political table. Rep. Tom Emmer said, “I am pleased Senator Franken made the right decision for the great state of Minnesota and our country. Elected officials hold the trust of the constituents they represent, and it is crucial we cherish and honor that trust. I am hopeful this will move our society towards better behavior.”
Here were some of the other responses from Thursday:
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn. and vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee — “Sen. Franken’s decision to resign shows a strength of character that other elected officials haven’t.”
U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, D.-Minn. — “Senator Franken has determined that he can no longer effectively represent the people of Minnesota. He has done the right thing for Minnesota and our Nation by stepping down.”
Minnesota DFL Party Chairman Ken Smith — “He has been a tireless and strong progressive leader on behalf of Minnesotans in Washington, but that in no way excuses his behavior toward the women who came forward. His resignation today is an important part of the healing process.”
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman — “It’s a sad day for all the causes Al championed. … But this day is yet another reminder that the countless women who have been the victims of sexual assault and harassment must not be silenced. For too long, their stories have been disbelieved or subject to special scrutiny. As we go forward, it is my hope that we will seize this time in our history to fundamentally change how women are treated in our society.”
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)