18 Races to Watch in 2018: Minnesota Senate Race | NTK Network 18 Races to Watch in 2018: Minnesota Senate Race

18 Races to Watch in 2018: Minnesota Senate Race

Will Al Franken's sexual misconduct hurt Democrats in an unexpected special election?

By NTK Staff | 12.29.2017 @8:00am
18 Races to Watch in 2018: Minnesota Senate Race

Senate Democrats were not expecting to have to defend Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) seat until at least 2020, but that was before multiple women came forward to accuse the Minnesota Democrat of sexual assault, forcing Franken to resign from the Senate and bringing about a special election in 2018.

Now, Minnesota’s Senate seat is up for grabs, according to the political handicappers.

WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE: Minnesota’s lieutenant governor, Tina Smith, will eventually replace Franken in the Senate, and is expected to also run for the seat in 2018.

Smith will hardly be the only Democrat running in the primary to replace Franken, and progressive Democrats could try to make a stand in Minnesota, which is seen as one of the bluest states in America.

The Republican field is expected to be equally crowded, with over a dozen Republicans rumored to be considering a run, including several current U.S. House members.

Most notable is former Minnesota governor and one-time Republican presidential candidate, Tim Pawlenty, who is rumored to be considering a run.

Republican insiders see Pawlenty as their best chance of winning the Senate race in the Democratic-leaning state.

WHY IT MATTERS: Hillary Clinton only narrowly defeated Donald Trump in Minnesota in the 2016 election. Factor in Franken’s conduct, and Republicans are optimistic that they can run a winning campaign in the state.

Franken was first elected to the United States Senate in 2008, a race that was decided by only 312 votes, and required a recount and a court battle.

Republicans went into the 2018 midterm elections expecting to increase their majority in the Senate, given how favorable the Senate map is. If Republicans can flip the Minnesota Senate seat, it would allow Trump and Republicans to more aggressively push their agenda ahead of 2020 elections.

The Cook Political Report listed the race a “toss up” instantly after Franken resigned.

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