Blagojevich Won't Get to Name a Senator After All?

Dick Durbin, for now Illinois' only U.S. senator, is floating the idea of holding a special election to fill Illinois' vacant Senate seat. The ...
by | December 9, 2008
 

Dick Durbin, for now Illinois' only U.S. senator, is floating the idea of holding a special election to fill Illinois' vacant Senate seat. The proposal appears to be quickly gaining traction.

Rich Miller reports that outgoing Illinois Senate President Emil Jones is calling the Senate into special session to pass a law that would allow for the special election. That Jones, one of Blagojevich's most loyal defenders, would support stripping the governor of his power to name a replacement seems to suggest that the idea has widespread support.

This is a good time to ponder why governors ever get to name U.S. senators. Besides Blagojevich allegedly selling the appointment in Illinois, just look at everything else that has been going on in the last month.

There's some anger in Delaware that Gov. Ruth Ann Minner selected a placeholder to replace Joe Biden, seemingly setting the stage for Attorney General Beau Biden to run in 2010 when he gets back from Iraq. New York Gov. David Paterson has the unenviable task of naming a replacement to Hillary Clinton -- he'll probably make some new enemies, or at least bruise some egos, no matter who he picks. And, some Democrats are salivating at the possibility of one of Maine's Republican senators being named to Obama's cabinet, so that Democratic Gov. John Baldacci can name a replacement.

All of these headaches and machinations could be avoided if vacant U.S. Senate seats were always filled through special elections. If they do it for the House, why can't they do it for the Senate?

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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