“Enough is enough,” wrote New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in a Facebook post about her colleague Sen. Al Franken. “The women who have come forward are brave and I believe them.”
Gillibrand’s note about her “friend” was just the first in a chorus of voices calling on Franken to step down amid a growing list of allegations by silence breakers that he groped, harassed, and attempted to forcibly kiss them prior to becoming a senator. Franken has apologized and said he was ashamed of the behavior that got him on the ever-growing list of men accused of sexual harassment. He has been accused by seven women of groping or trying to forcibly kiss them, but has denied some of the accusations.
Now it appears his female colleagues have had enough, and want Franken to make an example of himself. “While Senator Franken is entitled to have the Ethics Committee conclude its review, I believe it would be better for our country if he sent a clear message that any kind of mistreatment of women in our society isn’t acceptable by stepping aside to let someone else serve,” wrote Gillibrand. She is not alone. Joining in the call to Franken are other Democratic women senators, including Claire McCaskill of Missouri; Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire; Mazie Hirono of Hawaii; Kamala Harris of California; Patty Murray of Washington; and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, all of whom put out statements within minutes of each other saying it was time for Franken to go. By noon, a few male colleagues joined in the chorus with Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., saying Franken should step aside, as well as DNC Chair Tom Perez, who tweeted, “Sen. Al Franken should step down. Everyone must share the responsibility of building a culture of trust and respect for women in every industry and workplace, and that includes our party.”
The concerted effort may have worked, too, as Franken is expected to make an announcement tomorrow.
If Franken does step down, as the Daily Kos notes, Minnesota’s Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton would appoint a replacement, perhaps conscripting one of the many women in Minnesota politics into the job. (Attorney General Lori Swanson perhaps?) Then, a special election would be held in Nov. 2018 for the final two years of the term, followed by a regular election in 2020 for full 6-year term.ML