All eyes on Franken: Will Dems force him out before Alabama votes?

“As long as Al Franken is in the Senate,” said Mike Huckabee this morning on Fox News, surmising Alabamians’ reasoning, “as long as you’ve got Conyers and others who are staying in office, then why not have Roy Moore?” Well, you don’t have Conyers anymore — effective immediately. That was the surprise in this morning’s announcement, not that he was retiring but that he was leaving Congress immediately. Just last week his lawyer was telling anyone who would listen that Conyers wouldn’t be pushed out. Now, lo and behold, he’s been pushed out. How come?

The obvious explanation is that Dem leaders are scrambling to unload their baggage before Alabama goes to the polls next week. Conyers needed to go immediately, not just because new accounts of him pestering women staffers keep popping up in media but because Democrats are suddenly eager to set a “no predators in Congress!” standard before the Moore/Jones vote. Is Conyers resigning enough for them to claim the high ground before the election or does Franken need to go too? If he doesn’t, the Conyers resignation will be brushed away by Republicans as a matter for the House, not for the chamber Moore is attempting to join where Franken remains a member in good standing. Besides, how impressive is Conyers’s resignation when he’s attempting to keep the seat in the family?

If Democrats want to maximize their leverage before Alabama, shoving Franken towards the exit is a no-brainer. Like Conyers, he occupies a safe seat so there’s no (immediate) risk of a Republican pick-up. Minnesota’s Democratic governor would appoint a replacement, presumably very quickly so that Franken’s successor would be seated in time to oppose tax reform. Once Franken’s gone Democrats will have hedged their bets for Alabama. Maybe the spectacle of Dems purging their miscreants will goose turnout among liberals in Alabama or give Republicans who dislike Moore more incentives to cross over for Jones. And if not, if Moore wins anyway, then Democrats get to crow that they’re the party that holds their own accountable for mistreating women after, ah, tolerating it for the entire second half of the 20th century from, among other big names, Bill Clinton and pretty much every male named Kennedy. Gotta start somewhere if you’re going to clean up your act, though. Franken would be a start, but the clock is ticking. They have seven days and a once-in-a-generation pick-up opportunity in the deep south. What do they have to lose by sending Franken back to his previous career of writing anti-Rush-Limbaugh polemics?

Here’s Huckabee, an ordained Christian minister, passing up his chance to argue against moral relativism by shrugging at the idea of electing Moore because Franken hasn’t given up his seat yet. Exit question from around a hundred different people on social media yesterday: How come Romney hasn’t sent a tweet like this about Franken or Conyers yet?