A group of Democratic activists called on embattled senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, to resign his seat Thursday after a photo surfaced showing him groping a sleeping TV anchor’s breasts during a USO tour in 2006.
“It would be profoundly hypocritical for Democrats to stand by Franken in this moment. We can’t tolerate harassment or assault,” Justice Democrats said in a statement on their website.
We’re calling on @alfranken to resign and to be replaced by @keithellison. It’s time for a change. https://t.co/phuFCWcRZE
— Justice Democrats (@justicedems) November 16, 2017
“We are calling for Franken to resign his seat. In Minnesota, a vacancy would need to be filled by an appointment from Gov. Mark Dayton. After Franken resigns, we are calling on the governor to appoint Keith Ellison as the next U.S. senator from Minnesota.”
The activist organization began a petition looking for 25,000 signatures and currently has almost 6,500 since Friday afternoon. Other liberal activists and Democrats have called on Franken to resign including the president of Minnesota’s Democratic Farmer-Labor-Party’s Feminist Caucus, Megan Thomas. Thomas told the Washington Examiner that Franken’s behavior was “every woman’s nightmare on a bus.”
She continued, “The ‘political’ answer is to wait and not overreact,” Thomas wrote in a Facebook post. “But I also know the next time I see him in person I will, however fleeting or unneeded, be afraid because of what he is doing in that picture. No one should fear their elected representatives, so, sadly, for me, I think the Senator should resign.”
New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg wrote in a column Thursday that she wanted Franken to be considered for as a 2020 presidential hopeful, but that is no longer an option.
“I would mourn Franken’s departure from the Senate, but I think he should go, and the governor should appoint a woman to fill his seat,” Goldberg wrote. “The message to men in power about sexual degradation has to be clear: We will replace you.”
Hollywood actress Alyssa Milano who often expresses her liberal views on Twitter said Thursday, “Zero tolerance. If we don’t hold all accountable for horrible behavior — nothing changes. Sorry, @SenAlFranken you should not be in a position to represent the female constituents in your state.”
Hollywood actor Mark Ruffalo agreed and re-tweeted a message from a veterans group that supports Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders that also called for Franken’s resignation.
The sentiment is a far cry from where Franken’s base supporters were originally when he first ran against Minnesota Republican incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman in 2008—a race that ended in a controversial recount which led to Franken’s narrow victory at the time.
Although Republicans in 2008 pointed to concerns about Franken’s attitudes and jokes about sex, most of the criticism about the Minnesota Democrat was brushed off as unfair attacks.