Tina Smith

Christine Elizabeth "Tina" Flint Smith (born March 4, 1958) is an American politician and former businesswoman serving as the junior United States senator from Minnesota since 2018. She is a member of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL), an affiliate of the Democratic Party. Smith served as the 48th lieutenant governor of Minnesota from 2015 to 2018 before being appointed to fill the United States Senate seat vacated by Al Franken. She won the 2018 special election to fill the remainder of Franken's term, defeating Republican Karin Housley, a Minnesota state senator.

Tina Smith
United States Senator
from Minnesota
Assumed office
January 3, 2018
Serving with Amy Klobuchar
Preceded byAl Franken
48th Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota
In office
January 5, 2015  January 2, 2018
GovernorMark Dayton
Preceded byYvonne Prettner Solon
Succeeded byMichelle Fischbach
Personal details
Christine Elizabeth Flint[1]

(1958-03-04) March 4, 1958
Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Archie Smith
EducationStanford University (BA)
Dartmouth College (MBA)
WebsiteSenate website

Early life and education

Smith was born on March 4, 1958,[2] in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the daughter of Christine, a teacher, and F. Harlan Flint, a lawyer.[3] Before going to college she worked on the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. She graduated from Stanford University with a degree in political science, and later earned a master's degree in business administration from Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.[4]

Early career

Smith first moved to Minnesota in 1984 for a marketing job at General Mills.[5] She later started her own marketing firm, where she consulted with businesses and nonprofits.[6] In the early 1990s Smith became involved in local politics, volunteering for DFL campaigns in Minneapolis.[7] She managed Ted Mondale's unsuccessful 1998 campaign for governor. After Minnesota's U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash weeks before the 2002 election, Smith managed former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale's campaign for the seat.[8] After Mondale lost a narrow election to Norm Coleman, Smith began working as the vice president of external affairs at Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.[9]

Smith left her job at Planned Parenthood to serve as chief of staff to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak in 2006.[10] In 2010 she was picked to manage Rybak's gubernatorial campaign, which ended after Margaret Anderson Kelliher won the DFL endorsement.[8] Smith then joined the campaign of Mark Dayton, who skipped the endorsing convention and eventually won the DFL primary.[7] After Dayton defeated Republican Tom Emmer in the general election, Smith was named a co-chair of the transition. Dayton appointed Smith his chief of staff when he took office in 2011.[11]

Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota

2014 election

When Lieutenant Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon announced she would not seek reelection, Governor Mark Dayton selected Smith as his running mate in the 2014 gubernatorial election. Dayton cited Smith's work on passing legislation for new Minnesota Vikings Stadium, as well as her support for the Destination Medical Center project with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.[12]

Smith stepped down as Dayton's chief of staff to campaign for lieutenant governor. After being nominated by acclamation at the DFL state convention, and facing only token opposition in the DFL gubernatorial primary, Dayton and Smith defeated Republicans Jeff Johnson and Bill Kuisle in the general election.[13]


Smith took office as lieutenant governor on January 5, 2015, and served until she was appointed to represent Minnesota in the U.S. Senate on January 2, 2018.[14] During her tenure Smith was described by many political observers as having a much higher profile and playing a much more significant role in legislative negotiations than her predecessors.[5][15] She spent a significant amount of time traveling the state in support of the priorities of Dayton's administration, including funding for optional preschool for all four-year-olds, transportation infrastructure, and rural broadband internet access. She also served as chair of the Destination Medical Center board until her resignation in December 2017.[16][17]

In 2016 Roll Call named Smith to its "America's Top 25 Most Influential Women in State Politics" list, citing her high-profile role in the Dayton administration.

Despite widespread speculation to the contrary, Smith announced in March 2017 that she would not run for governor in the 2018 election.[18][19]

U.S. Senate


On December 13, 2017, Governor Dayton announced Smith as his pick to fill the United States Senate seat held by Al Franken, who had announced he would resign amid allegations of sexual misconduct.[20][21] While political observers initially speculated Smith might serve in a caretaker role, she announced her candidacy in the 2018 special election.[22]

Dayton issued the official certificate of appointment following Franken's resignation on January 2, 2018.[23][24]


With Vice President Mike Pence administering the oath of office, Smith was officially sworn in as a United States Senator on January 3, 2018,[25] alongside Doug Jones of Alabama. She was accompanied by fellow Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and former Vice President and former Minnesota Senator Walter Mondale.[26]

Committee assignments

Source: Senate Democrats Press Release[27] [2]

Legislation sponsored

The following is an incomplete list of legislation that Smith has sponsored:

2018 election

Smith competed in the 2018 special Senate election in Minnesota. She won the August 14 Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party primary with 76% of the vote. Richard Painter, a White House ethics lawyer during the George W. Bush administration, finished second with 14%.[28][29] Smith defeated Republican nominee Karin Housley, a state senator from St. Marys Point, in the November 6 general election, with 53% of the vote to Housley's 42%.[30][31]

Political positions


Smith is a vocal supporter of abortion rights and the only member of the United States Senate to have worked for Planned Parenthood.[32][33] She supports the use of federal funds for abortion procedures and opposed legislation that would require doctors perform lifesaving medical care for babies born as a result of botched abortions.[34][35]


In March 2019 Smith was one of 38 senators to sign a letter to United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue warning that dairy farmers "have continued to face market instability and are struggling to survive the fourth year of sustained low prices" and urging his department to "strongly encourage these farmers to consider the Dairy Margin Coverage program."[36]

Climate change

In November 2018 Smith was one of 25 Democratic senators to cosponsor a resolution in response to findings of the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change report and National Climate Assessment. The resolution affirmed the senators' acceptance of the findings and their support for bold action to address climate change.[37]

Criminal justice reform

In December 2018 Smith voted for the First Step Act, legislation aimed at reducing recidivism rates among federal prisoners by expanding job training and other programs in addition to expanding early-release programs and modifying sentencing laws such as mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, "to more equitably punish drug offenders."[38]

Drug policy

In December 2018 Smith was one of 21 senators to sign a letter to Commissioner of Food and Drugs Scott Gottlieb stating their approval of the actions of the Food and Drugs Administration to hinder youth access to e-cigarettes and urging the FDA "to take additional, stronger steps to prevent and reduce e-cigarette use among youth."[39]

Foreign policy

In April 2019 Smith was one of 34 senators to sign a letter to President Trump asserting that Trump had "consistently expressed a flawed understanding of U.S. foreign assistance" since becoming president and that by preventing the use of Fiscal Year 2018 national security funding he was "personally undermining efforts to promote U.S. national security and economic prosperity". The senators argued that foreign assistance to Central American countries decreased migration to the U.S. by helping to improve conditions in those countries.[40]

Gun control

In March 2018 Smith was one of ten senators to sign a letter to Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Lamar Alexander and ranking Democrat Patty Murray requesting they schedule a hearing on the causes and remedies of mass shootings in the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.[41]

Health care

Smith supports a public option and is a strong supporter of the Affordable Care Act.[42]

In the lead-up to the 2018 elections Smith said her record in the Senate showed she would fight pharmaceutical companies to improve people's lives, and that she would continue to fight to lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs in Minnesota, for example by making generic drugs more available, preventing people with preexisting conditions from being charged more, and allowing Minnesotans to buy in to Medicare if they are dissatisfied with their options on the insurance market.[43]

In December 2018 Smith was one of 42 senators to sign a letter to Trump administration officials Alex Azar, Seema Verma, and Steve Mnuchin arguing that the administration was improperly using Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act to authorize states to "increase health care costs for millions of consumers while weakening protections for individuals with preexisting conditions." The senators requested the administration withdraw the policy and "re-engage with stakeholders, states, and Congress."[44]

In January 2019, during the 2018–19 United States federal government shutdown, Smith was one of 34 senators to sign a letter to Commissioner of Food and Drugs Scott Gottlieb recognizing the efforts of the FDA to address the shutdown's effect on public health and employees while remaining alarmed "that the continued shutdown will result in increasingly harmful effects on the agency’s employees and the safety and security of the nation’s food and medical products."[45]

In February 2019 Smith was one of 11 senators to sign a letter to insulin manufactures Eli Lilly and Company, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi about their increased insulin prices having deprived patients of "access to the life-saving medications they need."[46]


In April 2019 Smith was one of 41 senators to sign a bipartisan letter to the housing subcommittee praising the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development's Section 4 Capacity Building program as authorizing "HUD to partner with national nonprofit community development organizations to provide education, training, and financial support to local community development corporations (CDCs) across the country" and expressing disappointment that President Trump's budget "has slated this program for elimination after decades of successful economic and community development." The senators wrote of their hope that the subcommittee would support continued funding for Section 4 in Fiscal Year 2020.[47]


In August 2018 Smith was one of 17 senators to sign a letter spearheaded by Kamala Harris to United States Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen demanding that the Trump administration take immediate action in attempting to reunite 539 migrant children with their families, citing each passing day of inaction as intensifying "trauma that this administration has needlessly caused for children and their families seeking humanitarian protection."[48] She also supports the extension of DACA, to shield "Dreamers" from deportation.[49]

In July 2019, following reports that the Trump administration intended to cease protecting spouses, parents and children of active-duty service members from deportation, Smith was one of 22 senators led by Tammy Duckworth to sign a letter arguing that the protection gave service members the ability "to fight for the United States overseas and not worry that their spouse, children, or parents will be deported while they are away" and that its termination would both cause service members personal hardship and negatively affect their combat performance.[50]


In June 2019 Smith was one of eight senators to sponsor the Made in America Act, legislation that would designate federal programs that had funded infrastructure projects not currently subject to Buy America standards and mandate that the materials used in these programs be domestically produced. Bill cosponsor Tammy Baldwin said the bill would strengthen Buy America requirements and that she was hopeful both Democrats and Republicans would support "this effort to make sure our government is buying American products and supporting American workers."[51]

LGBTQ issues

In October 2018 Smith was one of 20 senators to sign a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging him to reverse the rolling back of a policy that granted visas to same-sex partners of LGBTQ diplomats who had unions that were not recognized by their home countries, writing that too many places around the world have seen LGBTQ individuals "subjected to discrimination and unspeakable violence, and receive little or no protection from the law or local authorities" and that refusing to let LGBTQ diplomats bring their partners to the US would be equivalent of upholding "the discriminatory policies of many countries around the world."[52]

Railroad safety

In June 2019 Smith was one of ten senators to cosponsor the Safe Freight Act, a bill that would require freight trains to have one or more certified conductors and a certified engineer on board who can collaborate on how to protect the train and people living near the tracks. The legislation was meant to correct a Federal Railroad Administration rollback of a proposed rule intended to establish safety standards.[53]

Electoral history

Democratic primary election results[54]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic–Farmer–Labor Mark Dayton/Tina Smith 177,849 92.99
Democratic–Farmer–Labor Leslie Davis/Gregor Soderberg 8,530 4.46
Democratic–Farmer–Labor Bill Dahn/James Vigliotti 4,880 2.55
Total votes 191,259 100
Minnesota gubernatorial election, 2014[55]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic–Farmer–Labor Mark Dayton/Tina Smith (incumbent) 989,113 50.07% +6.44%
Republican Jeff Johnson/Bill Kuisle 879,257 44.51% +1.30%
Independence Hannah Nicollet/Tim Gieseke 56,900 2.88% -9.06%
Grassroots Chris Wright/David Daniels 31,259 1.58% +1.22%
Libertarian Chris Holbrook/Chris Dock 18,082 0.92% n/a
n/a Write-ins 795 0.04% -0.05%
Total votes 1,975,406 100.0% N/A
Democratic–Farmer–Labor hold
Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party primary results, Minnesota 2018[56]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic–Farmer–Labor Tina Smith (incumbent) 433,705 76.06%
Democratic–Farmer–Labor Richard Painter 78,193 13.71%
Democratic–Farmer–Labor Ali Chehem Ali 18,897 3.31%
Democratic–Farmer–Labor Gregg Iverson 17,825 3.13%
Democratic–Farmer–Labor Nick Leonard 16,529 2.90%
Democratic–Farmer–Labor Christopher L. Seymore Sr. 5,041 0.88%
Total votes 570,190 100%
United States Senate special election in Minnesota, 2018[57]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic–Farmer–Labor Tina Smith (incumbent) 1,370,540 52.97% -0.18%
Republican Karin Housley 1,095,777 42.35% -0.56%
LMN Sarah Wellington 95,614 3.70% N/A
Independent Jerry Trooien 24,324 0.94% N/A
Write-in 1,101 0.04% N/A
Total votes 2,587,356 100.0% N/A
Democratic–Farmer–Labor hold

See also


  1. Flint, Edward Frances; Flint, Gwendolyn Slaughter (December 16, 1984). Flint family history of the adventuresome seven. Gateway Press. Retrieved December 16, 2018 via Google Books.
  2. "About Tina | Senator Tina Smith". www.smith.senate.gov. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
  3. Terrell, Steve. "Senator who stepped into Minnesota role has deep New Mexico roots". Santa Fe New Mexican. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
  4. "Tina Smith: Minnesota's Next Lieutenant Governor". Mark Dayton for a Better Minnesota. Archived from the original on July 2, 2014. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  5. Condon, Patrick (October 10, 2016). "Lt. Gov. Tina Smith's high-profile role fuels speculation about her political future". Star Tribune. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  6. "Governor Mark Dayton Appoints Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith to Serve as United States Senator". Office of Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
  7. Bierschbach, Briana. "Minnesota, meet your next U.S. senator: Tina Smith". MinnPost. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
  8. Potter, Kyle. "Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith named to fill Franken seat". Star Tribune. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
  9. Bierschbach, Briana (February 4, 2014). "Veteran behind-the-scenes player Tina Smith steps forward as Dayton's running mate". MinnPost. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  10. Pugmire, Tim. "As Dayton weighs Franken replacement, who may run in 2018?". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  11. Bierschbach, Briana (February 2, 2015). "The rise of Tina Smith". MinnPost. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  12. Bierschbach, Briana (February 2, 2015). "The rise of Tina Smith". Minneapolis: MinnPost.
  13. Simons, Abby. "Franken cruises to easy re-election". Star Tribune. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  14. "Smith resigns as Lt. Governor, prepares for start in the Senate". KMSP Fox 9. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  15. Grow, Doug (May 9, 2016). "Why there has never been a lieutenant governor like Tina Smith". MinnPost. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  16. Condon, Patrick (October 10, 2016). "Lt. Gov. Tina Smith's high-profile role fuels speculation about her political future". Star Tribune. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  17. "Tina Smith resigns from Mayo Clinic board as her move to Senate nears". Twin Cities. December 28, 2017. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  18. Wilkins, Emily (March 18, 2016). "From Top Lieutenant to Lt. Governor". MinnPost. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  19. "Lt. Gov. Tina Smith will not run for governor in 2018". Star Tribune. Minneapolis. March 17, 2017. Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, one of the state's highest-ranking female elected officials and a close adviser to Gov. Mark Dayton, will not run for governor in 2018
  20. Rao, Maya. "Transition time: Franken moves out, Smith moves in". Star Tribune. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
  21. "'I shouldn't be underestimated': Tina Smith will take Al Franken's seat — and run again in 2018". Twin Cities. December 13, 2017. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  22. "Minnesota Democrats aim to clear Tina Smith's path for 2018 Senate bid". Twin Cities. December 14, 2017. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  23. Samuels, Brett (January 2, 2018). "Franken makes Senate resignation official". TheHill. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  24. "United States Senate Appointment and Lieutenant Governor Transition". Office of Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  25. New Democratic Senators Doug Jones and Tins Smith Sworn in C-Span, January 3, 2018
  26. "Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith sworn in as senator, replacing Franken". ABC News. January 3, 2018. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  27. "Schumer Announces Updated Senate Democratic Committee Memberships for the 115th Congress, 2nd Session | Senate Democratic Leadership". www.democrats.senate.gov. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  28. "United States Senate special election in Minnesota (August 14, 2018 Democratic primary)". Ballotpedia. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  29. FOX. "Minnesota primary election results roundup". KMSP. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  30. "Tina Smith, Karin Housley make for historic matchup for U.S. Senate". Star Tribune. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  31. "Minnesota U.S. Senate Special Election Results". The New York Times. November 14, 2018. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  32. "Top 18 of 2018". Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Action Fund, Inc. December 26, 2018. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  33. Rao, Maya. "U.S. Sen. Tina Smith highlights Planned Parenthood past in criticizing Trump's abortion rule". Star Tribune. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  34. Desanctis, Alexandra (February 25, 2019). "Senate Fails to Pass Born-Alive Bill". National Review. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  35. Bierschbach, Briana. "Smith aims to use Planned Parenthood background to her advantage". www.mprnews.org. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  36. "U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Calls on Trump Administration to Implement Farm Bill Dairy Improvements for Wisconsin Dairy Farmers". urbamilwaukee.com. April 1, 2019.
  37. "Merkley resolution urges quick climate change action". ktvz.com. November 27, 2018.
  38. Fandos, Nicholas (December 18, 2018). "Senate Passes Bipartisan Criminal Justice Bill". New York Times. In one of this Congress’s final acts, every Democrat and all but 12 Republicans voted in favor of the legislation — an outcome that looked highly unlikely this month amid skepticism from Republican leaders.
  39. Minato, Charlie (December 7, 2018). "21 SENATORS SEND LETTER URGING FDA TO BAN FLAVORED TOBACCO, MENTHOL". halfwheel.com.
  40. Frazin, Rachel (April 4, 2019). "More than 30 Senate Dems ask Trump to reconsider Central American aid cuts". The Hill.
  41. "Senate Dems request health panel hearing on school shootings". The Hill. March 26, 2018.
  42. "Affordable High-Quality Health Care". Tina Smith for Minnesota. Retrieved December 17, 2019.
  43. "Health care Q+A with Senate candidates Smith, Housley". Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  44. "U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Calls on Trump Administration to Stop Pushing Health Insurance Plans that Weaken Pre-Existing Condition Protections". urbanmilwaukee.com. December 20, 2018.
  45. "Democratic Senators "Alarmed" by Shutdown's Potential Impact on Food Safety". foodsafetymagazine.com. January 15, 2019.
  46. "Sen. Kaine calls on pharmaceutical companies to explain skyrocketing insulin prices". 13newsnow.com. February 5, 2019.
  47. "Wyden, Merkley urge more affordable housing funds". ktvz.com. April 16, 2019.
  48. Weixel, Nathaniel (August 15, 2018). "Senate Dems demand immediate reunification of remaining separated children". The Hill.
  49. "Tina Smith on Immigration". www.ontheissues.org. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  50. Domingo, Ida (July 11, 2019). "Senate Democrats to Trump: don't deport military families". wset.com.
  51. "U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin and Representative John Garamendi Introduce Reform to Strengthen Buy America Requirements for Federal Government". urbanmilwaukee.com. June 25, 2019.
  52. Rodriguez, Jesus (October 11, 2018). "Democratic senators demand Pompeo reverse visa denials for LGBTQ diplomats' partners". Politico.
  53. "Wyden co-sponsors bill to boost rail safety". ktvz.com. June 27, 2019.
  54. "Statewide Results for Governor & Lt Governor, Primary Election". Minnesota Secretary of State. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  55. "Statewide Results for Governor & Lt Governor". Minnesota Secretary of State. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  56. "Minnesota 2018 Primary Election Results". Minnesota Secretary of State. Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  57. "Minnesota Secretary Of State - 2018 General Election Results". www.sos.state.mn.us. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
External video
News conference with Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton announcing Smith as his appointee to the U.S. Senate, December 13, 2017, C-SPAN
Political offices
Preceded by
Yvonne Prettner Solon
Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota
Succeeded by
Michelle Fischbach
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Al Franken
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Minnesota
Served alongside: Amy Klobuchar
Party political offices
Preceded by
Al Franken
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Minnesota
(Class 2)

Most recent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Catherine Cortez Masto
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Doug Jones
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