Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton on Wednesday appointed Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to replace Senator Al Franken following his resignation last week amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
Smith will assume Franken’s seat on an interim basis until the state can hold a special election next year (similar to the one that saw Democrat Doug Jones defeat Republican Roy Moore in Alabama on Tuesday.) According to reports, the lieutenant governor intends to run for the seat in that contest when it takes place in 2018.
With Smith’s appointment, Minnesota will have two female senators for the first time in history. The state’s senior representative in the chamber is Senator Amy Klobuchar, who was elected to the body in 2007. Minnesota will join the ranks of California, Washington, and New Hampshire, which all currently have two female senators.
In January of this year, the number of women currently serving in the Senate reached a record-breaking 21. The addition of Smith brings the new total to 22, inching the Senate ever closer to reaching one-quarter female representation, still well below women’s share of the U.S. population.
Smith moved to Minnesota in the 1980s, first working in marketing and public relations. In 2002, she served as an advisor to Walter Mondale’s U.S. Senate campaign and later became vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. She took over as Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak’s chief-of-staff in 2006 and ran his gubernatorial campaign in 2010. She then served as Governor Mark Dayton’s chief of staff, until joining his ticket for reelection in 2014—the first time she’s held elected office.