State leaders respond to Franken’s resignation announcement

Published 4:59 pm Thursday, December 7, 2017

Minnesota politicians gave varying responses Thursday to U.S. Sen. Al Franken’s announcement that he would resign in the coming weeks amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton extended his regrets to the women who endured “unwanted experiences” from Franken.

Email newsletter signup

“As a personal friend, my heart goes out to Al and his family during this difficult time,” Dayton said.

The governor described Franken as an outstanding senator.

“He has been, as Sen. Paul Wellstone used to say, ‘a senator from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party,’” Dayton said. “He is very smart, very hard-working and very committed to Minnesota. I wish him well in his future endeavors.”

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, DFL-Minn., said she and Franken, whom she described as a friend, discussed the resignation being the “right decision.”

“As the women who have come forward to tell their stories across America have made clear, sexual harassment is never acceptable,” Klobuchar said. “In every workplace in America, including the U.S. Senate, we must confront the challenges of harassment and misconduct. Nothing is easy or pleasant about this, but we all must recognize that our workplace cultures — and the way we treat each other as human beings — must change.”

She said it was a tough day for Franken’s wife, his family, his friends and his supporters and said she remains committed to standing up for people in what is a divisive time for the country.

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, DFL-Mankato, said he believed Franken made the right decision in stepping aside from office.

Walz said though Franken has accomplished a lot of good for Minnesotans, he thinks Franken’s pattern of behavior is unacceptable and his ability to effectively serve was compromised.

District 27A Rep. Peggy Bennett, R-Albert Lea, said though she, too, thought Franken made the right decision, she felt badly about the situation.

“I don’t care if the person was Republican, Democrat, in between, whatever, it’s a sad situation on both sides,” Bennett said. “For the women who have been hurt or embarrassed and also people like Sen. Franken and others who have worked hard for the public, and now they have to step down — and sometimes rightly so.”

She said as there have been many allegations of sexual misconduct put forth in the country and in the state in the last several weeks, she has mixed opinions on how to proceed from them.

“I think we have to be careful that women are being heard, but we also have to be careful that we’re not going overboard and trying people in the court of public opinion when there may or may not be supporting evidence,” Bennett said.

She hopes in the end the discussion will cause people to start respecting each other more and being aware of their decisions.