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Millenial Mayors & Senate Shake-Up: Big Year Expected In Minnesota Politics

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith will take the Senate oath on Wednesday.  She will replace Al Franken, who announced his resignation last month after sexual misconduct allegations. This new year means two millennial mayors will be running the state's Twin Cities.  Minneapolis Mayor-elect Jacob Frey will be sworn in Tuesday and so will St. Paul Mayor-elect Melvin Carter. The St. Paul native will take the oath at his alma mater, St. Paul Central High School.

"In many cases having a young and innovative perspective I think can be an asset," said the Virginia native, Mayor-elect Jacob Frey following his victory party in November.

Across the river St. Paul's first ever African-American to lead in this post is Mayor-elect Melvin Carter.

"I'm just very honored. I am incredibly humbled. This is a city that I love dearly and I grew up in our rec centers," said Mayor-elect Melvin Carter. "My first job was as an intern at the Department of Planning and Economic Development."

Hamline University Professor of Political Science David Schultz is anxious to see how their leadership influences the rest of Minnesota.

"In many ways what's happened is these two mayors are far more liberal than the ones they are replacing, look to see how Minneapolis and St. Paul move further to the left, and with that how does that drive, let's say, the metro area politics, and at the same time how does that perhaps shift to the left affect overall state politics," Schultz said.

Nationally all eyes will be on Minnesota with two Senate contests:  Sen. Amy Klobuchar is up for re-election and there will be a special election after Al Franken's resignation.

"We are going to have all of our statewide offices, both of our senators up, all of congressional delegation up, this is going to be a lot of politics that attracts not just statewide attention, but national attention," said Professor Schultz.

Lt. Governor Tina Smith has a short window to make an impact in the Republican controlled Senate.

"Though I never anticipated this moment I am resolved to do everything that I can to move Minnesota forward and I will be a fierce advocate," said Lt. Governor Tina Smith at a press conference in early December.

Professor Schultz believes the pressure is on Franken's replacement to learn the ropes fast if the soon to be Senator wants support from her own party and constituents come November.

"She's going to be pressed immediately, to now be prepared to run for re-election immediately and one of the things she's going to have to worry about is raising a lot of money perhaps $20 million," he said.

Schultz believes this year will be a big year in terms of political spending. He thinks Minnesota could attract $100 to $150 million in political advertising dollars.

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