As Franken Steps Aside, Nurses Back Call for Keith Ellison to Fill Senate Vacancy

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As Franken Steps Aside, Nurses Back Call for Keith Ellison to Fill Senate Vacancy

"Keith has been an outspoken advocate for nurses and other working people in his distinguished service in the House, and has shown a broad national reach and worked to build coalitions across the country."

At a time when the Senate is poised to enact a disgraceful tax bill that shifts more resources from working people to big corporations and the one percent, on top of repeated attacks on health coverage, environmental and workplace protections, and other critical fights, we need the proven progressive voice of Keith Ellison in the Senate," said NNU co-president and Minnesota resident Jean Ross, RN. (Photo: National Nurses United/Flickr/cc)

On the heels of Sen. Al Franken's announcement Thursday that he will resign following accusations of sexual harassment by several women, National Nurses United (NNU) began circulating a petition calling on Minnesota's Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton to appoint Rep. Keith Ellison to fill Franken's soon-to-be vacant Senate seat.

"At a time when the Senate is poised to enact a disgraceful tax bill that shifts more resources from working people to big corporations and the one percent, on top of repeated attacks on health coverage, environmental and workplace protections, and other critical fights, we need the proven progressive voice of Keith Ellison in the Senate," NNU co-president and Minnesota resident Jean Ross, RN, said in a statement.

NNU executive director RoseAnn DeMoro echoed Ross on Twitter, writing: "It's time to #DraftKeith!"

According to news reports, Ellison is on Dayton's short list of possible candidates, alongside Lt. Gov. Tina Smith and Rep. Tim Walz. Because Franken did not specify the precise date of his departure, it is unclear when Dayton will announce his replacement. Whoever is chosen will face a special election in November of next year.

If selected, Ellison would become the first Muslim to ever hold a seat in the U.S. Senate. He would also "provide a critical voice of leadership in the Senate at this pivotal moment for working people in Minnesota and across the U.S.," Ross argued.

"Keith has been an outspoken advocate for nurses and other working people in his distinguished service in the House, and has shown a broad national reach and worked to build coalitions across the country this year as the Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee," Ross concluded. "He is exactly the representative we need in the Senate today."

NNU, which represents over 150,000 nurses in every state, is not the only progressive group that has thrown its support behind Ellison.

Shortly after the first allegations against Franken emerged last month, Justice Democrats circulated its own petition denouncing Franken's behavior, demanding that he resign, and endorsing Ellison to take his place.

While progressives on social media were quick to point out that there are strong reasons to replace Franken with a woman, they argued that Ellison would be a great choice as well.

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