By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — You could call it Minnesota’s accidental U.S. Senate race, and the competition for who will win in November is heating up.

Senator Al Franken wasn’t up for reelection until 2020, but when he abruptly resigned after being accused of groping several women, it triggered a series of events that will culminate with an election for that Senate seat this fall. Gov. Mark Dayton appointed his Lt. Governor Tina Smith to the open seat.

Last week, Professor Richard Painter — a prominent critic of President Donald Trump — jumped into the race, announcing he will run as a Democrat and try and beat Smith for the nomination.

Painter, a Republican who worked as an  ethics attorney for President George W Bush said his only option this year was to run as a Democrat. He was a guest on WCCO Sunday Morning. Professor Painter said:

“The Republican party has really gone way off the deep end, very far away from the values of the Republican party of Governor Arne Carlson and other moderates,” Painter said. “And now, with backing President Trump, it is unacceptable for our Democracy what is happening to our country.”

While Smith is still the favorite to lock up the DFL endorsement at the parties convention next month, she will now have to face off against Painter in the August primary.

Having Painter and Smith battle it out most of the summer is very good news for the leading Republican in the race. State Senator Karin Housley, for now, looks like she will have a clear path to the GOP nomination — leaving her fresh for a face off against either Smith or Painter in November.

You can watch WCCO Sunday Morning with Esme Murphy and Mike Augustyniak every Sunday at 6 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

Richard Painter On Where He And Sen. Tina Smith Disagree

Esme Murphy