Bush Ethics Lawyer Will Run for Senate as a Democrat

“Richard Painter, a longtime Republican who was chief ethics lawyer for George W. Bush’s White House, intends to run for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota this year as a Democrat,” the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

“Painter, a persistent and frequent critic of President Donald Trump on national cable TV news appearances and on Twitter, is expected to announce his candidacy at a Monday news conference. … [The] seat is up this fall in a special election, and [Tina] Smith has said she intends to run for a full six-year term.”

Bachmann Says God Didn’t Want Her to Run

Former Rep. Michele Bachmannn (R-MN) told a radio host show that after much prayer, she has decided that God does not, in fact, want her to make a bid for U.S. Senate.

Said Bachmann: “I considered it for quite a long time. From the very first day when Al Franken had announced his resignation from the U.S. Senate, I went before the Lord and it became very clear to me that I wasn’t hearing any call from God to do this.”

Pawlenty Passes on Senate Run In Minnesota

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) told Fox Business that he will not run for the Senate this year in Minnesota.

Said Pawlenty: “I am very interested in public service and service for the common good, there are a lot of different ways to do that, but I’ll tell you today that running for the United States Senate in 2018 won’t be part of those plans.”

Politico: “Republican leaders have failed to secure their top-choice candidate in eight of the 10 Senate races in states that Trump won in 2016.”

Dayton Will Appoint Smith to Replace Franken

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) will appoint Lt. Gov. Tina Smith (D) to replace Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) as Minnesota’s next U.S. senator until a special election is held next year, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

Minnesota Public Radio says Smith will run in the special election for the seat in November.

The special election is expected to draw contenders on both sides. Even with Smith’s selection, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) is mulling the race. Former GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) is being wooed by Republicans.

Franken’s Exit Could Impact Senate Control After 2018

Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) “seat wasn’t supposed to be up again until 2020. But his resignation Thursday amid allegations of sexual misconduct creates a 2018 special election in Minnesota. And Republicans, who hold a 52-48 majority, are now on the hunt for a top-tier candidate in a politically competitive state where President Trump lost by less than two percentage points last year,” NBC News reports.

“The unexpected opportunity could be a ‘total game-changer in terms of control of the Senate,’ said Republican strategist Alex Conant, a Minnesota native who worked in communications roles for the RNC and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s 2012 presidential campaign. ‘If we field a strong candidate.'”

Daily Beast: Here’s why Democrats forced Al Franken to do the right thing—and why they may come to regret it.

Female Lt. Governor Likely to Replace Franken

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) “is expected to appoint his lieutenant governor and close ally, Tina Smith, to Al Franken’s seat if the Democratic senator resigns on Thursday,” Politico reports.

“But that appointment would be just the start of a huge upheaval in Minnesota.”

“Part of the reason Smith could be heading to the Senate, the sources said, is because she has indicated no interest in running for Congress in the past and would not run for the remainder of Franken’s term, which expires in 2020, in a 2018 special election. That would clear the way for a wide-open Democratic primary next year if Franken steps down.”