Daily Digest: Succession dominoes start to fall

There’s no such thing as routine in Minnesota politics. Impasses, standoffs, staredowns, court fights — you get the idea. Today brings the newest round as a lieutenant governor becomes a senator and a senator becomes lieutenant governor (while hoping to keep her current job). It’s a hand-off weeks in the making and probably weeks from being fully settled. To the Digest:

1. Lt. Gov. Tina Smith resigned effective midnight; 12 hours later she gains the title U.S. senator. Smith’s appointment to the Senate gives Minnesota two women in the role at the same time for the first time in history. She’s the 22nd woman in the Senate, a record. Smith is guaranteed only a year, with a special election in November required to determine who gets the last two years of Sen. Al Franken’s unfinished term. (Fortune Magazine)

2. With Smith gone from the state Capitol, is tumult ahead? Gov. Mark Dayton wished Smith, a fellow Democrat, well in her new assignment and welcomed incoming Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach, a Republican, to the role. “Over the past few weeks, I have greatly enjoyed getting to know our state’s new Lieutenant Governor, Michelle Fischbach,” Dayton said Tuesday. “I look forward to our building a good working relationship in the year ahead.” Good tidings aside, a fight looms given that Fischbach is the presiding officer in a closely divided Senate. Here’s a tidy tick tock. (Pioneer Press)

3. About the Franken seat: Michele Bachmann gives it a look. Bachmann is a former U.S. House member and 2012 presidential hopeful. She left office in 2015, but still has a whopping $1.7 million in her campaign account. She could tap that and be an instant contender for the Republican nomination. But she’s not ready to commit to the race. (MPR News and Washington Post)

4. We should all think twice about using the term ‘Twitter War’ from now on. Tensions are on the rise again between the leaders of North Korea and the United States. It’s all about nuclear arsenals. Fresh off his holiday break, President Donald Trump has warned the saber-rattling North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, about a willingness to deploy nuclear weapons if provoked. Trump tweeted: “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” In reality, there is no physical button. (AP)

5. Finally, there are lots of candles on the cakes at the state Capitol. It’s not exactly a retirement home, but Minnesota’s Legislature tends to be more mature than the state’s population as a whole. The average House member is 55 years old; senators average 58 years old. The average Minnesotan is 47. But could a youth movement be ahead? (MinnPost)