Sen. Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville), president of the Minnesota Senate, now serves as the state’s lieutenant governor following Gov. Mark Dayton’s appointment of Tina Smith to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Al Franken.
Fischbach has long represented District 13, which includes St. Joseph and Sartell. in the Minnesota Senate.
Earlier in December, Franken announced he would resign in the wake of several sexual impropriety accusations against him from women he knew or worked with in the past. It was part of a massive wave of similar accusations made in the past couple of months against Hollywood celebrities, politicians and high-profile people in many other professions. Many of those accused, like Franken, have resigned. Franken was serving his second six-year term as a senator from Minnesota, the other being incumbent Amy Klobuchar.
After news of Franken’s resignation. Gov. Dayton appointed Minnesota Lieutenant Gov. Tina Smith to the U.S. Senate seat. In the meantime, Fischbach was appointed by Dayton to become lieutenant governor, the 49th in the state’s history.
She has said she intends to continue to preside as Senate president while serving as lieutenant governor. That issue is now the subject of a lawsuit in Ramsey County District Court.
Fischbach is the first woman to become president of the State Senate. She was first elected as senator for District 13 in 1996 and has been re-elected to serve seven times since then. She was assistant minority leader for the Senate for a time, then became its president from 2011-2013. In 2016, when Republicans retook control of the Senate, she was elected as its president again earlier this year.
Fischbach attended the College of St. Benedict and then St. Cloud State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and then went on to obtain a law degree from the William Mitchell College of Law.
She and her husband, Scott, live in Paynesville and have two grown children.
Smith was sworn in on Jan. 3.
Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, California, then a master’s degree in business administration from Dartmouth College, New Hampshire.
Smith moved to Minnesota in the 1980s to take a job in marketing for the General Mills Corp. Later, she started her own marketing firm and also served as vice president of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota/North Dakota/South Dakota. From 2006 to 2010, she was chief of staff for Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Ryback and then joined Mark Dayton’s campaign for governor in 2010. Dayton was elected the next year, and Smith was elected as the state’s 48th lieutenant governor in 2015.
Smith said she intends to run in the November 2019 election to fill out the last two years of Franken’s term.
Smith and her husband, Archie, have two grown children.