STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

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

Politico reported Monday morning that ...

Posted: Dec 18, 2017 10:13 PM
Updated: Dec 18, 2017 10:13 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.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 98190

Reported Deaths: 2969
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7189161
DeSoto569464
Harrison394175
Jackson358570
Rankin337280
Madison334190
Lee293572
Forrest254275
Jones252780
Washington227879
Lafayette221240
Lauderdale2078126
Bolivar187370
Oktibbeha181952
Lamar176237
Lowndes160858
Neshoba1599104
Panola151631
Sunflower149146
Leflore143882
Warren141850
Pontotoc130116
Monroe125369
Pike124954
Copiah119933
Scott118027
Coahoma117530
Lincoln112353
Marshall111821
Grenada110136
Holmes110060
Yazoo106733
Simpson105847
Tate101938
Union101224
Leake96538
Adams94937
Wayne91521
Pearl River91453
Prentiss88418
Marion87537
Itawamba85921
Alcorn83411
Covington83223
George78513
Tallahatchie78324
Newton78124
Winston74619
Tishomingo71039
Tippah70518
Chickasaw69524
Attala67225
Clarke61149
Walthall60426
Clay59919
Hancock59822
Jasper58415
Noxubee55816
Smith55115
Calhoun52912
Tunica50015
Montgomery47020
Claiborne46516
Yalobusha44414
Lawrence43914
Perry43221
Quitman3905
Greene38917
Stone38013
Humphreys37715
Jefferson Davis34711
Amite34210
Webster33913
Carroll33112
Wilkinson30818
Kemper29115
Sharkey26714
Jefferson2439
Benton2333
Franklin1993
Choctaw1876
Issaquena1063
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 137564

Reported Deaths: 2399
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson20221352
Mobile13558295
Tuscaloosa9029118
Montgomery8894187
Madison800580
Shelby616450
Lee601761
Baldwin564052
Marshall398345
Etowah357545
Calhoun356944
Morgan334929
Houston295421
Elmore273948
DeKalb246121
St. Clair237937
Walker236987
Talladega219030
Limestone215720
Cullman192220
Dallas179926
Franklin179430
Autauga179127
Russell17903
Lauderdale175934
Colbert168426
Blount162915
Escambia162024
Jackson161112
Chilton160930
Dale141844
Covington141628
Coffee13936
Pike122011
Chambers117942
Tallapoosa117385
Clarke110916
Marion97629
Butler91740
Barbour8967
Winston75112
Marengo72820
Pickens67215
Randolph67213
Bibb66411
Lowndes65927
Hale65328
Geneva6505
Lawrence63625
Cherokee62013
Bullock61015
Clay5929
Monroe5928
Washington56012
Crenshaw54532
Perry5436
Conecuh53811
Wilcox53211
Henry5145
Macon48318
Fayette47311
Sumter43419
Cleburne4085
Lamar3822
Choctaw35212
Greene30615
Coosa1743
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 59°
Columbus
Clear
56° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 56°
Oxford
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 54°
Starkville
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 57°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather