Governor, Promise Republicans The Franken Seat If Moore Loses

Al Franken Getty Images/Cory Ryan

David Benkof Contributor
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Now that Senator Al Franken has heeded calls for his resignation by his fellow Democratic Senators, members of his party are preening, boasting of having taken a “Roy Moore Test” and aced it. But they never really faced one. Minnesota’s Democrat governor gets to pick the replacement senator, so Franken’s seat was never at risk.

Calling for Franken’s resignation was easy.

Courage is not replacing a morally compromised politician with a member of your own party (which Democrats are doing). Courage is replacing a morally compromised politician with a member of the other party (which they are calling on Republicans to do).

So let the Democrat Party be a little courageous. Gov. Mark Dayton should promise the voters of Alabama that if they defeat Republican senatorial nominee Roy Moore in Tuesday’s election, Dayton will appoint a Republican to replace Franken.

The initial GOP horror at the allegations against Moore has eased since Republicans internalized the fact that electing him is the only way to protect their current 52-48 Republican Senate majority. A similar process happened after Trump’s crude comments about women were revealed in last year’s election. While I felt for the good of the country Republicans needed to vote against both Trump and Moore, neither was a painless choice.

Pushing Franken out, however, was easy for Sen. Chuck Schumer and other members of the Democratic caucus. Not only can Dayton replace him with another Democrat, but their party can also present itself as morally pure, having dispatched “their” alleged sexual miscreant when Republicans wouldn’t do so with ours.

And boy, are liberals having fun with this. Here’s Paul Waldman from The Washington Post:

It has never been clearer than it is right now: While abusers come from every region, every religion, every race, every economic class and every political orientation, the Democratic Party is taking the issue of sexual harassment seriously and is willing to cast out its own if they’ve been credibly accused. The Republican Party does not take the issue seriously and is perfectly happy to tolerate serial abusers in its midst – even an accused child molester – if there might be a political cost to turning its back on them.

As I’ve written, Roy Moore would be an unusually poor choice to be a United States senator even if his personal life was pristine — and Democrats know it. They should be alarmed by his looming rise to federal office, and take advantage of this rare opportunity to block him.

Because please, without these allegations, Moore would be a shoo-in. The campaign of a Deep South liberal Democrat like Doug Jones is only alive because Alabamans shocked by his past are considering acting against their legislative and political interest. With the Franken resignation, Democrats can offer them an easy out. Swapping a rare GOP Minnesota seat for a rare Democratic Alabama seat leaves the balance in the Senate the same — and keeps Roy Moore out of power.

And what’s the downside? If Moore wins anyway, Dayton can appoint the Democrat of his dreams to the seat. And right now, it does look like Moore is going to win.

I can think of only three reasons why the put-principle-over-party Democrats would object to Dayton making such an offer:

Maybe they’re pretty sure Jones would have won anyway and they’re drooling at the chance to make the Senate 51-49.

Maybe despite their protestations, they actually want Roy Moore in the Senate as a gift that keeps on giving, a perpetual Todd Akin spouting soundbites about the evils of preschool and the wonders of sodomy laws.

Most likely, though, their piety is a sham. If the situations were swapped, Republicans would let our alleged perpetrator go and Democrats would fight mightily to protect theirs.

(Democrats fighting mightily to protect a politician credibly accused of rape because they’ll suffer politically if they don’t? Say it isn’t so!)

Mark Dayton can demonstrate his party’s sincerity about ridding the Senate of bad actors – politics be damned – by promising a Republican appointee if Alabamans elect Jones.


David Benkof is a columnist for The Daily Caller. Follow him on Twitter (@DavidBenkof) or Facebook E-mail him at DavidBenkof@gmail.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.