Washington D.C. (KROC-AM News) - Former Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith is now a U.S. Senator.

Smith was accompanied by former Minnesota Senator and former Vice President Walter Mondale as she took the oath of office during a swearing-in ceremony at the US Capitol Wednesday morning. The former chair of the Rochester Destination Medical Center Corporation Board was appointed by Governor Mark Dayton to replace fellow Democrat Al Franken after his resignation became official on Tuesday. Franken decided to step down in the wake of numerous allegations of inappropriate touching and unwanted sexual advances.

Smith’s appointment runs through the end of next year, and the winner of a special election next fall will represent Minnesota during the final 2 years of Franken’s second term in the Senate. Smith has said she intends to run in the special election.

Meanwhile, State Senator Michelle Fischbach issued a statement today indicating she has now assumed the role of “Acting” Lieutenant Governor. By using the term “acting” Fischbach signaled her intent to continue serving as the senior Republican in the State Senate. She also stated that she would not accept the $96,000 salary paid to the state’s Lieutenant Governor and would continue collecting her $45,000 annual salary from the Minnesota Senate.

Democrats in the legislature and State Attorney General Lori Swanson contend it’s unconstitutional for Fischbach to hold both positions and Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk has said he plans to file a legal challenge.


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