How to Replace a Senator

Impatient with Rod Blagojevich's "dilly dallying" in picking a replacement for Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate, Chicago Tribune columnist Eric ...
by | December 4, 2008

Impatient with Rod Blagojevich's "dilly dallying" in picking a replacement for Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate, Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn outlines the strictures put on governors in some other states (via Grasscatcher):

Three states--Hawaii, Utah and Wyoming--require the governor to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate by picking from a list of three candidates submitted by officials representing the party of the departing senator.

This not only dramatically limits the power of the governor, but prevents a governor from arbitrarily shifting the balance of power in the U.S. Senate (something not likely to happen here, given that Blagojevich and Obama are both Democrats).

Two states-- California and New Jersey--allow their governors to call for special elections to fill U.S. Senate vacancies if they so choose.

Three states--Arkansas, Louisiana and Missisippi--require the calling of a special election to fill a Senate vacancy, but only if there's more than a year remaining in the term of the departing senator. This balances the need for democracy with the reality that statewide special elections are expensive and shouldn't be called just to elect someone to serve a few months in Washington.

And eight states--Alabama, Alaska, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin--call for even more expeditious special elections.

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