Al Franken's chances of un-resigning? 'Close to zero.'

Politico reported Monday morning that ...

Posted: Dec 18, 2017 11:13 PM
Updated: Dec 18, 2017 11:13 PM

Politico reported Monday morning that Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, a Democrat, was being urged by at least 4 of his colleagues to reconsider his decision to resign his seat in the wake of a series of allegations from women that he groped and forcibly kissed them. "I definitely think he should not resign," West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said on "New Day" Monday.

Could that actually happen? And, if so, how? In search of answers to those questions, I reached out to veteran Minnesota political reporter Brian Bakst, who now works at Minnesota Public Radio. Our conversation, conducted via email and lightly edited for clarity, is below.

Cillizza: Was there any indication in Minnesota that Franken might not actually leave?

Bakst: There were plenty of people who took note of his open-ended timetable for resignation when he announced earlier in the month he would leave. Ardent fans of Sen. Franken saw a glimmer of hope that he would reverse course. Staunch foes saw fretted over the same possibility. But those conversations have largely occurred outside of Franken's direct orbit.

Cillizza: Has anyone talked to Franken? Any indication from his world about this? Is he encouraging it?

Bakst: Franken's team has given several indications his mind was made up. They worked with Gov. Mark Dayton's office on crafting a hand-off plan. In a statement, Franken praised the selection of Lt. Gov. Tina Smith as his replacement. Late last week, a Franken spokesman said that the senator's office expected the change to happen in early January, the most precise information offered to date.

Some people who worked with Franken's political campaigns have continued to press the case he was run out on allegations some find suspicious. That sentiment has zoomed across social media, fed by big-time celebrities like Tom Arnold, Bette Midler and Rosie O'Donnell.

But Franken himself has said very little. He hasn't sat for an interview since announcing he would step down.

Cillizza: How does this affect Dayton and Tina Smith? Would she step aside?

Bakst: Dayton said he took his guidance from Franken's statement he would resign but doesn't have any official paperwork in hand. At the state level, Dayton has typically waited for legislators to officially resign before scheduling special elections to replace them.

In this case, Dayton said he felt it was important to announce his intention early to assure Minnesota has continuous representation. Dayton, a former senator, said he isn't expecting a sudden shift: "I know Senator Franken is a man of his word. I know he gave this some very intense thought. I fully expect that he will follow through and resign in early January and this will be a smooth transition."

Meanwhile, Smith is preparing to take over. She announced Friday she would retain two of Franken's most senior advisers, including his chief of staff. She traveled to Washington on Sunday and will spend a couple of days looking for a place to live and holding meetings. So if Smith suspects she won't actually get the job, she's not showing it.

Cillizza: What's the reaction to this news in the state? Arne Carlson has said he supports the un-resignation. Any other voices and why?

Bakst: It's been met with fascination.

Few major Democrats -- in the congressional delegation or otherwise -- publicly joined the call for Franken to resign. But they also commended him for doing the right thing when he did. It's clear there was a balancing act at play because Franken retains a strong base of support in the liberal wing of the party but also a fear that he would become a 2018 liability.

The loudest call for Franken to stay came from Carlson, a former Republican governor who has moved toward the political left since serving in the 1990s. But Carlson's noted commentary asking Franken to ride it out wasn't contagious in the state's political class.

Even some people who support Franken and believed he was owed more opportunity to defend himself said they saw it as a done deal. State Rep. John Lesch, a St. Paul Democrat, put it this way last week. "The ship has sailed." Lesch told reporters. "He has resigned. He has lost the confidence of over I think half of the members of his own caucus based on that aggregate effect. So I think it becomes a de facto resignation. I don't know how he survives. He made the decision he needed to make."

Cillizza: Finish this sentence: "The chances of Franken reversing his decision and staying in the Senate are ______%." Now, explain.

Bakst: "Close to zero."

Franken surely has some defenders, but he's lost so much support in his Democratic caucus in the Senate. More party Senate colleagues called for him to leave than expressed a hope he would stay. Franken knows that his ability to function effectively in Washington is impaired even if he believes he was not given a fair shake.

That said, it's 2017 and we've seen far stranger twists in Washington. So until he hands over the letter with a hard date, it's impossible to say with certainty that Franken is gone.

Lafayette
Clear
44° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 38°
Kokomo
Clear
38° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 30°
Rensselaer
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 29°
Lafayette
Clear
44° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 38°
Danville
Partly Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 39°
Frankfort
Partly Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 35°
Frankfort
Partly Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 35°
Monticello
Clear
38° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 32°
Monticello
Clear
38° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 32°
Logansport
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 31°
Colder This Morning
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

WLFI is promoting fire safety with FREE smoke detectors

 WLFI and several local fire departments are helping with your fire safety this winter. CLICK HERE. 

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 658043

Reported Deaths: 12467
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion902221628
Lake48163871
Allen35614632
Hamilton31884394
St. Joseph29615510
Elkhart25291412
Vanderburgh21148377
Tippecanoe19815197
Johnson16262353
Porter15867268
Hendricks15744297
Clark11860179
Madison11688315
Vigo11520228
Monroe10267158
Delaware9800178
LaPorte9725194
Howard9024194
Kosciusko8519107
Bartholomew7394147
Warrick7380147
Hancock7379128
Floyd7149165
Wayne6597189
Grant6406157
Morgan6044124
Boone604188
Dubois5876111
Dearborn541266
Henry539892
Marshall5397104
Cass538999
Noble507575
Jackson462663
Shelby458890
Lawrence4161111
Gibson400581
Harrison395960
Clinton393353
DeKalb382878
Montgomery382883
Miami355163
Knox354484
Whitley347235
Huntington339276
Steuben336355
Wabash329575
Putnam326559
Ripley325261
Adams320749
Jasper313643
White295651
Jefferson293270
Daviess284496
Fayette270555
Decatur269688
Greene260278
Posey260031
Wells256074
Scott248947
LaGrange240270
Clay239444
Randolph225076
Spencer216130
Jennings214044
Washington208727
Sullivan202239
Fountain200641
Starke186450
Owen181652
Fulton177437
Jay177328
Carroll175718
Perry172635
Orange170450
Rush164222
Vermillion159040
Franklin158435
Tipton145641
Parke138415
Pike127232
Blackford120327
Pulaski106243
Newton96431
Brown94839
Benton91213
Crawford90113
Martin80014
Switzerland7527
Warren74712
Union66810
Ohio52811
Unassigned0428

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events