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U.S. Senate Special Election: Tina Smith

Tina Smith didn’t have a large profile when Gov. Mark Dayton appointed her to fill Al Franken’s seat. That is starting to change, however, as Smith’s no-nonsense, bi-partisan mindset that made her great behind the scenes in St. Paul is translating quite well to Capitol Hill.

She’s worked with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) on student and community mental health services and with Sen. Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota) on rural health insurance. She’s fought for rural broadband funding and was involved with the farm bill.

“The purpose of being in the Senate is to get things done,” she said. “My approach is going to be to understand what Minnesota needs, and to translate what Minnesota needs to D.C.”

Republican challenger Karin Housley, a state Senator from St. Mary’s Point, has done admirable work in the Legislature on elder abuse. In a February visit to Winona, Housley aligned herself with state Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, as someone who built a reputation of being able to work across the aisles. 

But she hasn’t shown the same grasp of complex national issues as Smith, who deserves to fill the rest of the term.