Tina Smith raised her right hand and swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution, replacing Minnesota U.S. Sen. Al Franken after a series of allegations that he engaged in sexual misconduct.
She took her oath at 11:04 a.m. Central time Wednesday, Jan. 3, becoming the 22nd female senator. That is a record number of women serving at the same time in the 100-member body.
Smith was sworn in along with Doug Jones, an Alabama Democrat elected in a special election last month.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and former Vice President Walter Mondale accompanied Smith as Vice President Mike Pence swore in the two new members and they lingered in the Senate chamber to be greeted by other senators.
Smith was Gov. Mark Dayton’s lieutenant governor since 2015 and was his chief of staff for the four previous years. Dayton named her to fill the position that was vacated Tuesday by Franken, who left after eight women accused him of sexual misconduct with them.
“I’m looking forward to continuing to be a fierce advocate for Minnesotans, and carrying on the progressive legacy of this seat,” Smith tweeted earlier Wednesday. ” I hope you’ll follow along here, because I’m ready to get to work.”
Smith, a Democrat, says she will run in the November election to fill out the remaining two years of Franken’s term.
The new senator faces one announced candidate, Republican state Sen. Karin Housley of St. Mary’s Point. Former U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann last month said she is considering a run and many Republicans want former Gov. Tim Pawlenty to run.
Housely said Smith has been “a lifelong Democrat political operative” and criticized her time as a Planned Parenthood official.
“I must also applaud the courage and strength of the women who spoke out regarding the actions of Sen. Franken,” Housley said. “I look forward to setting a new standard more becoming of the U.S. Senator from Minnesota. I ask that Tina Smith do the same.”
The political left was happy with Smith taking office.
“Tina Smith is stepping into the seat that progressive hero Paul Wellstone once held,” Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee said. “We wish her well and hope she upholds his legacy with a commitment to the progressive values that Minnesotans voted for in 2016, fighting for working families, protecting consumer rights, and challenging powerful corporate interests.”