Following Senator Franken’s (D-MN) resignation over allegations of sexual misconduct, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has appointed his Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith to fill the seat until a special election can be scheduled in November 2018. The winner of the 2018 special election will be able to complete the two remaining years that would be left in Senator Franken’s term, which is expires in 2020. After that, the candidate would be up for election for a new 6 year term. Learn more here.
Additionally, on Tuesday, December 12, Democratic candidate Doug Jones won the Alabama special election to fill out the remainder of now-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who vacated his Senate seat after being appointed by the President to the Department of Justice earlier this year. The seat had been filled until the special election by Luther Strange, who lost the Republican run-off primary for Sessions’ seat to controversial candidate Roy Moore. Roy Moore has not yet conceded the race, demanding a recount - which his campaign would have to pay all costs for. While it is unclear whether the Moore campaign will have the funds for the recount, were it to occur a recount is unlikely to change the outcome of the race, according to the Alabama Secretary of State. Doug Jones will likely be seated in the Senate the the first week of January 2018, when the results of the election will have been officially certified.
The Alabama special election changes the 2018 partisan balance of the Senate to 51 Republicans, 47 Democrats and 2 Independents (who both caucus with the Democrats). This greatly increases the influence of Republican “swing votes” such as Senators Collins, McCain, Corker and Flake.