Good morning and welcome to Thursday, which experience has taught me is usually the busiest news day of the week. That is, unless it’s the Thursday before Christmas, when it’s anybody’s guess. Anyway, here’s the Digest.
1. Franken sets day to leave. Minnesota Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken plans to resign his Senate seat on Jan. 2, opening the door for Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to take over the position Jan. 3, Franken’s office said Wednesday. Franken announced earlier this month he would exit the Senate in the coming weeks in the face of mounting accusations of sexual misconduct before and during his time in office. He’d spent weeks this fall pleading for forgiveness in response to the accusations over his past actions. At least eight women had shared stories of him touching them without consent during photo-opportunities, on a celebrity tour to military installations abroad or at political events. (MPR News)
2. Meet Michelle Fischbach. Earlier this month, Gov. Mark Dayton announced that Lt. Gov. Smith as his choice to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate, after Franken announced he would resign in the midst of a sexual harassment scandal. In early January, Smith will transition into her new role in Washington, and Republican state Sen. Michelle Fischbach will have to transition into her new role — as lieutenant governor. The situation has thrust Fischbach, 52, into the limelight. But it hasn’t changed her determination to also serve her central Minnesota district in the state Senate — which means she’s likely to become the first person in state history to try to do both jobs at once. (MinnPost)
3. Minnesota could lose a congressional seat. New population estimates released Wednesday show Minnesota is in serious trouble of losing a U.S. House seat and would have to leapfrog other states to keep its current eight. The 2017 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau forecast that Minnesota is about 30,500 people shy of retaining its current complement in Congress based on the population shifts in other parts of the country. The once-a-decade reapportionment won’t happen until after the official American head count done in 2020, so nothing is certain. But Minnesota would have to catch several breaks to keep from losing ground. Two states also projected to lose seats — New York and West Virginia — were closer to keeping their current delegations intact. Three states that did wind up above the cut line — Alabama, Colorado and Rhode Island — did so narrowly. (MPR News)
4. The father of a woman who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer expressed concern about the status of the investigation. The father of Justine Ruszczyk Damond had some biting words Wednesday about the “integrity” of the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the “gaps” in its investigation of his daughter’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police on July 15. In a news conference in Sydney, Australia, John Ruszczyk said the family is “deeply concerned about the possibility that the initial investigation was not done properly or with the greatest sense of integrity or completeness.” He implored Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman “to continue to pursue a rigorous investigation and examination of evidence” and said “we expect them to fill in any gaps in the BCA’s work honestly and fairly but completely.” (Star Tribune)
5. Remember that Virginia candidate who won by one vote? Not so fast. A court has now declared a tie in a Virginia legislative election that one day earlier appeared to have gone to a Democrat by a single vote, the latest dramatic twist in a contest likely to decide control of the state House. A three-judge panel certified the 94th District in Newport News as tied at 11,608 to 11,608 on Wednesday, a day after a recount appeared to give Democrat Shelly Simonds the victory over Del. David Yancey. By state law, the winner of the tie will be determined “by lot.” It was not immediately clear how or when that will take place. Yancey successfully challenged an uncounted ballot that he said should have been included in his total. (AP)