Lt. Gov. Tina Smith will have the help of some experienced staff members when she takes over U.S. Sen. Al Franken’s seat next month.
Smith, who was appointed last week by Gov. Mark Dayton to fill Franken’s Senate seat after he resigns, said her office will be led by Franken’s chief of staff, Jeff Lomonaco, and his state director, Alana Petersen.
Lomonaco has worked for Franken since he took office in 2009. He began serving as the senator’s legislative director in 2012 and moved up to the chief of staff role in 2015. Petersen has served as Franken’s state director since he took office and will serve as deputy chief of staff and state adviser under Smith.
In a statement, Smith praised both staffers’ work for Franken, who is stepping down sometime in early January amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
“Over the last eight years, both have worked hard to deliver excellent service to the people of Minnesota,” Smith said. “I will be a fierce advocate in the United States Senate for economic opportunity and fairness, and I am glad to have them join me as we begin this crucial work to move Minnesota forward.”
It remains unclear exactly when Smith will take over the seat. Franken’s office said in a statement last week that he would step down by early January but did not specify a date. It’s also uncertain how many other members of Franken’s 46-member staff will stay on board.
Franken’s departure will prompt a November 2018 election for the seat. Smith has said she plans to run. So far, no other DFLers or Republicans have announced campaign plans.