ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Gov. Mark Dayton’s office says he will announce his choice to replace Al Franken in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday.
Matt Swenson, Dayton’s assistant chief of staff, said Dayton will make the announcement at a 10 a.m. news conference at the State Capitol.
Dayton is widely expected to pick a woman, and among the top names circulating are Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, state auditor Rebecca Otto, Attorney General Lori Swanson, state Rep. Melissa Hortman and state Sen. Melisa Franzen.
Sen. Franken said last week he would resign from his U.S. Senate seat after allegations from multiple women of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct.
Civil Rights Attorney and former Minneapolis mayoral candidate Nekima Levy-Pounds, penned a letter to Governor Dayton asking him to not overlook the leadership of women of color in the state.
“Eight out of the 10 congressmen in our state are men. We’ve only had one female senator in the history of our state, and we have never had a woman of color represent our state in Washington, D.C.,” said Nekima Levy-Pounds.
In her open letter to the Governor, she included a short list of her own.
“I talked about people like Judge Pam Alexander, Supreme Court Justice Wilhelmina Wright, Tito Bideoko who runs the We Win Institute, Senator Patricia Torres Ray, Representative Peggy Flanagan,” Levy-Pounds said.
Levy-Pounds believes the Governor has the opportunity to make history. She also has words for people who fight diversification of Minnesota’s political landscape.
“Absolutely the most qualified person should be selected by the governor. The reality is, when you look at our political landscape, there is no real evidence that the most qualified person is being selected right now. It’s who has access to money, who has access to power, who is part of the political establishment — those are the people who are typically selected,” Levy-Pounds said.
Franken has not officially resigned from his seat yet, but said he would do so by the end of the year.
A number of voices have come out in support of Franken following last week’s announcement.
On Sunday, former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson published a blog post where he said that, while he is not always in agreement with Franken, he firmly believe in the legal due process and that Franken should not resign right now.
Meanwhile, nearly 70,000 people have signed a Change.org petition supporting Franken, and urging him to stay in the Senate.
Analysts believe the defense of Franken by some high profile Republicans is linked to President Trump and Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore, who both face their own allegations of sexual misconduct.