GOP in striking distance to retake Franken seat

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Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith (D) holds a 7-point lead over Republican challenger and state Sen. Karin Housley ahead of November’s midterms, according to a new poll publishing Monday.

The Star Tribune/MPR News Minnesota poll found that Smith, who replaced former Sen. Al Franken (D) following his resignation in January, has the support of 44 percent of the likely voters polled. Another 37 percent support Housley, while 15 percent of those surveyed say they remain undecided, according to the poll.

Smith, the former Minnesota lieutenant governor, was tapped to replace Franken after he resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct. – READ MORE

In defending Mr. Franken against numerous allegations of sexual misconduct, Ms. Handler admitted during an interview with Buzzfeed News that she’s grabbed people’s genitals “many times” in photographs before and didn’t think that should be considered sexual assault.

“I don’t want to diminish anyone’s legitimate claim of feeling like they’ve been assaulted, because that’s your feeling,” she said. “But I think there is a very big difference of a man putting his arm around you — he’s a comedian, I’ve touched people’s breasts and genitals I can’t imagine how many times in photos. That doesn’t excuse it, but that’s something, that’s not rape. That’s not sexual assault, and it’s not repeated behavior over and over again.”

Ms. Handler, who claimed to be a victim of sexual assault herself, said Mr. Franken’s behavior was a “far different beast” than rape.

“For a person who’s been sexually assaulted, to compare that story to someone putting their arm around you and being silly in a picture, which is what I believe Al Franken was doing, I know him and that’s something he would do — obviously he’ll never do it again — but I don’t think those are the same things,” she said. – READ MORE

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