Franken Exit Could be Game-Changer for Control of Senate

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Disgraced Sen. Al Franken resigned his seat on Thursday after a growing tsunami of sexual misconduct and assault charges prompted even his Democratic colleagues to abandon him.

"Enough is enough", Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said.

The first allegation against Franken - for which he has apologized - was made by sports broadcaster and former model Leeann Tweeden, who said he forcibly kissed her, and touched her without consent as she slept, during a 2006 tour entertaining United States troops deployed in Afghanistan.

Franken called serving in the Senate an "honor", but announced that he will be resigning "in the coming weeks" since he can no longer be "effective". I don't respect men who don't. "She makes practical sense, and she would be a good bridge builder".

Sen. Al Franken announced his resignation on Thursday. "Others I remember very different".

With his staff lining the wall of the Senate chamber, waving at him in support, and several of his Democratic colleagues watching his remarks with grim expressions, Franken noted that "all women deserve to be heard and their experiences taken seriously", but defiantly claimed that some of the allegations against him are "simply not true".

"He's always had an interest in the Senate, so there's every reason to believe that conversation will be refreshed", former Coleman aide Josh Holmes said. "But this decision is not about me".

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Franken then also lashed out at President Trump and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, noting the sexual misconduct allegations against them.

Moore has denied the accusations, but Trump's endorsement as well as the support of most of the Republican Party for the accused child molester has drawn fierce criticism.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called him immediately after the Politico story appeared and said he needed to relinquish his Senate seat, according to a person familiar with the events.

The unexpected opportunity could be a "total game-changer in terms of control of the Senate", Republican strategist Alex Conant, a Minnesota native, told NBC News. Both men have also faced allegations of sexual misconduct.

Other Republicans who may consider running include State House Speaker Kurt Daudt, who has been considering seeking the governor's office, and Rep. Tom Emmer, who represents the state's most conservative congressional district and narrowly lost to Dayton in 2010 before going on to win a House seat.

Franken repeatedly drew attention to his pro-woman political record in his resignation speech, saying he has been proud to use his power "to be a champion of women".