MINNEAPOLIS (KARE) When Senator Al Franken makes his announcement Thursday, political science professor Steven Smith believes it will be his resignation.
"That gives the governor 24 hours to scramble and make some new plans," Smith said.
Under Minnesota law, Governor Mark Dayton will first name an interim replacement for Franken.
Then, at the August 14, 2018 primaries, voters will elect a candidate from each party.
At the General Election on November 6, 2018, voters will select the new senator to finish the last two years of Franken's term.
Finally, in November 2020, there will be another election for a new six-year term.
Smith says Dayton's immediate appointment is very important.
"Because that person would have a leg up, be serving in the Senate. And gain a lot of free publicity," Smith said.
"I think probably, given the current atmosphere, he'd likely look to a woman," said former St. Paul Pioneer Press political reporter Rachel Stassen-Berger.
Stassen-Berger suspects Dayton already has informally been thinking about potential replacements in the event Franken ends up resigning.
"You'd have to look at someone like Lori Swanson, the Attorney General, perhaps Lieutenant governor Tina Smith, Both Democrats, both women," Stassen-Berger said.
But Dayton also will decide whether to appoint a placeholder or someone he'll endorse through the primary.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar is up for re-election next year. So if Franken resigns, both seats will be on the ballot at the same time.
That's rare, but it happened in Minnesota in 1978 after Hubert Humphrey died. And that year, Republicans captured both seats.