What Happens When a Senator Resigns

BROOKINGS, S.D.- The national conversation over allegations of sexual harassment in the political arena has become a hot-button issue. Just last week, Minnesota Senator Al Franken stepped down from his seat when several women came forward. In light of his resignation, we spoke with an expert on how this could change the political climate.

It’s this photo from a 2006 USO trip to Afghanistan that started the conversation over sexual harassment allegations against Minnesota Senator Al Franken. Since then, multiple women have come forward and Franken made the decision to step down last week. Lisa Hager is a Political Science Professor at South Dakota State University. Prior to that, she used to work in Congress and says these allegations against Congress members have been shocking to hear.

“To hear that those sorts of stuff were happening when I was there before I was there after I was there is just really disappointing. It’s just eye-opening to hear those kinds of things,” says, Lisa Hager.

She also says it’s been rare to see all of these resignations.

“If we do see members of Congress stepping down, it’s for ethics violations,” says Hager. “That are typically dealing with campaign finance issues,”

Now that Franken is out, Governor Mark Dayton will appoint someone to fill Franken’s position temporarily until the general election. Under state law, he does not have to select someone from the same party as Franken. Hager says whoever Dayton appoints will be representing constituents with roll call votes until the general election.

“You’re not going to see a lot of large-scale policies being introduced by these people,” says Hager.

As the national topic over sexual harassment continues, Hager says with time there might be a shift in the political climate on how voters vote.

“Voters are changing whether they are voting republican or democrat based on the parties’ stance and responses to these sorts of issues,” says Hager.

A special election will be held 11 months from now in November 2018. The winner will serve out the remaining two years of Franken’s term, then have to run again in 2020.The winner of the 2020 election will serve a full six-year term.

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