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Could Richard Painter Enter Race For Al Franken's Senate Seat?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The election for the Minnesota Senate seat vacated by Al Franken in December may be the most unpredictable in the country.

Franken resigned after allegations of inappropriate behavior by at least a half dozen women.

Now, a prominent Republican critic of President Donald Trump is considering running in a move that could make the outcome of the November election even more uncertain.

The Franken senate seat was not supposed to be up for a vote this year. But Franken's sudden resignation in December triggered a chain reaction of events that has made this arguably the most unpredictable senate race in the country.

Governor Mark Dayton nominated his Lt. Governor, Tina Smith, to fill the Franken vacancy. Smith, a widely-respected DFL operative, is according to one poll not widely known statewide. Almost immediately after Franken stepped down, business owner and Republican State Senator Karin Housley jumped into the race.

Housley is also not widely known in her own right. Her husband, Minnesota hockey great Phil Housley, the current coach of the Buffalo Sabres, is expected to help her boost her name recognition and is expected to campaign extensively for her after the hockey season is over.

And now a possible additional candidate. Professor Richard Painter, a Republican who served as an ethics lawyer in the administration of George W. Bush, says he may run. Painter, who has become a staple on national talk shows for his critiques of President Trump, says he is not sure whether he would run as a Republican, Democrat or Independent. Professor Painter was a guest on WCCO Sunday Morning.

"If it were 20 years ago, the way the Republican Party was, I would run in the Republican primary. I have seen the Republican Party move dramatically to the right on social issues and also failed to contain spending," Painter said.

This Senate race is rated a toss-up by national tracking sites. There is that other U.S. Senate race that Minnesota voters will also be deciding in November. Senator Amy Klobuchar is up for re-election, and those national tracking sites put the Klobuchar race in the safely Democratic category.  Klobuchar is facing a challenge from Republican State Representative Jim Newberger and former minister Robert Barnheiser, among others.

You can watch WCCO Sunday Morning with Esme Murphy and MIke Augustyniak every Sunday at 6 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

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