- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 18, 2017

Progressives aligned with the Bernie Sanders camp called for replacing disgraced Sen. Al Franken with a fellow Minnesota Democrat, Rep. Keith Ellison, as support grew Friday for the senator’s resignation.

Justice Democrats, a group of former Sanders campaign staffers and others prominent leftists, launched a petition Thursday asking Mr. Franken to resign following the release of a photo showing him groping Leeann Tweeden as she slept on a 2006 USO tour.

“Franken must go. We do not tolerate those who abuse their power,” said Justice Democrats PAC executive director Saikat Chakrabarti in a statement. “Representative Keith Ellison has a proven track record of integrity and fighting for progressive principles.”

Mr. Ellison, the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, has a record as one of the most liberal members of Congress. He became the first Muslim to serve in Congress in 2007.

The petition came amid calls on the left and right for Mr. Franken to resign over his conduct toward Ms. Tweeden, now a KABC-TV Los Angeles news anchor, despite his apology and support for a Senate ethics investigation.

Minnesota state auditor Rebecca Otto, who’s running for governor, called Friday on Mr. Franken to step down, saying, “Al Franken is my friend, but we can’t have a double standard.”

Megan Thomas, president of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, said Thursday on Facebook that, “No one should fear their elected representatives, so, sadly, for me, I think the Senator should resign.”

National Democratic leaders such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Patty Murray of Washington condemned Mr. Franken’s behavior but stopped shortly of calling for his resignation.

If Mr. Franken did step down, he would be replaced by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, on an interim basis until the next regularly scheduled election, which would occur in 2018, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The feminist group UltraViolet declared on Facebook that, “Every man who sexually harasses or assaults women must be held accountable, no matter their position or party. Sen. Al Franken should resign.”

“Franken Must Go,” said the Friday headline on a column by New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg.

She argued that Mr. Dayton should appoint a woman to fill the vacancy.

“That horrifying photo of Franken will confront feminists every time they decry Trump’s boasts of grabbing women by the genitals,” said Ms. Goldberg. “Democrats will have to worry about whether more damaging information will come out, and given the way scandals like this tend to unfold, it probably will.”

Lauren DeBellis Appell, deputy press secretary for former GOP Sen. Rick Santorum, said in a Fox News op-ed that “Al Franken’s colleagues in the Senate need to call on him to resign his seat immediately.”

“So why this nonsense about a Senate Ethics Committee investigation? If Franken were a Republican, can anyone really say with a straight face that there wouldn’t be universal screams for his head, reverberating so emphatically that his political life might be over already?” she asked.

The Justice Democrats petition had nearly 7,000 signatures as of midday Friday.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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