Tina Smith will take over for Sen. Al Franken by early January

The senator hasn't given a specific date since announcing his resignation.

The big question still unanswered following Sen. Al Franken's resignation announcement: When?

We've now got a slightly clearer picture.

Franken's office expects his replacement (that would be Tina Smith) to be in place by early January, a spokesperson told GoMN Friday morning.

They're not getting more specific at this time.

Smith stepping in for Franken is one DFLer stepping in for another, so the party balance in the U.S. Senate won't change with it. 

But Smith could end up being sworn in around the same time Doug Jones takes office.

Jones, the Democrat from Alabama who beat Roy Moore in a special election Tuesday, will take the place of Republican Luther Strange.

That party swap – from R to D – means the GOP's advantage in the Senate will shrink to 51-49, giving Republicans a smaller margin for passing bills along party lines. 

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