There goes the Senate again… maybe

South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson is currently undergoing brain surgery for “stroke-like symptoms”. If he recovers, all is well. If he does not, or has to resign, the Democrat’s replacement will be named by South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds… a Republican.

Guess what that does to the balance of power.


Meanwhile, on the House side, Texas evicted another incumbent Republican. Woot!


15 comments so far

  1. avon_deer on

    His replacement is announced?!

    There is no bi-election held?!

    No offense, but WTF?!?! O.O

    • The Rev Dr Sherwood Forrester on

      Yeah, typically the governor appoints a successor in the case of a Senate vacancy. And will appoint one of his own party, regardless of the party of the previous seat-holder. When the governor is of the same party, typically the replacement Senator will be the spouse of the late or incapacitated member. When not, there’s no telling. By-elections are generally not done here for the Senate. They may be for the House–during an election year, the seat may be left vacant pending the next election. In an off year, it will be rolled in with the next election date or a special election might be called. But to my knowledge, never for the Senate. The governor does the appointing on behalf of the state, as the state’s highest elected official, because a Senator represents the whole state.

      • avon_deer on

        Thats a hole that defiantly needs plugging. Were I a voter in Ohio, I’d be going spare (regardless of what party I supported).

        Its bad enough that we’re stuck with the totally unelected Lords. I have always looked to the United States as an example of how to do democracy. This kind of thing shakes my faith a little bit. :(

        • The Rev Dr Sherwood Forrester on

          Were you an Ohio voter, you’d question whether your vote was counted anyway. Yeesh. Personally, I prefer the parliamentary to the presidential system anyway, coupled with instant-runoff voting.

          • avon_deer on

            Conversely, I have always admired (and envied) your ability to elect your head of state. Of course a presidential electoral system is not a pre-requisite for this.

            Neither is a parliamentary electoral system a pre-requisite for holding bi-elections to replace retired, ill or dead members of either house.

            Maybe there is something the US and UK can learn from each other here.

            • The Rev Dr Sherwood Forrester on

              And then there’s the French, who have both a president *and* a prime minister. All they need to do now is reinstate the Bourbons and they’ll have the whole set. :)

    • gmhelwig on

      Ever read the Constitution? It’s an interesting, and instructive document.

      Members of the House of Representatives must be elected. Senators do not have to be voted for.

      • avon_deer on

        Ever read the Constitution?

        Not fully. Its something of a difficult document to get hold of where I am.

        I have never suggested that anything illegal has gone on here. I was just surprised, thats all.

        • nsingman on

          If you’re curious, it’s available online .

        • The Rev Dr Sherwood Forrester on

          Yeah, it’s seriously screwed up, especially since Democrats nationwide in Senate races polled 55% to 43% for GOP candidates. However, there’s no need for Johnson to stand aside immediately, and it’s permissible for him to take an extended leave of absence: Al Gore did when his son was hit by a car, Paul Tsongas did after an aneurysm, they can last months or even years. In a display of good sportsmanship, the head of the GOP has said that he’s praying for Senator Johnson’s “full and complete recovery”. He didn’t say “and return to Capitol Hill”, but hey, I’ll let him pass on that.

          The thing I’m waiting for is for the first wingnut to claim that this is God taking the Senate back for Dumbass. You know it’s just a matter of time.

          • johnpalmer on

            The thing I’m waiting for is for the first wingnut to claim that this is God taking the Senate back for Dumbass. You know it’s just a matter of time.

            That’s what occurred to me, as well. I mean, first thought was for Tim Johnson’s health. Second was, “crap, there goes the Senate, even without Lieberman turning his coat”, and third was “and you know there are going to be people who insist this was God at work.”

            Because they believe in a god who’s that much of an asshole.

      • nsingman on

        That was the case prior to the ratification of the 17th Amendment:

        Amendment XVII – Senators Elected by Popular Vote. Ratified 4/8/1913.

        The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

        When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

        This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

        Before its ratification, senators were selected by state legislatures. The members of those bodies were elected officials.

        • gmhelwig on

          Right. But, Senators do not >have< to be voted for.

          • nsingman on

            I assume that you’re referring to the fact that governors may fill a vacancy rather than the executive issuing a “writ of election” (as is specified for House vacancies). In which case I agree.

        • The Rev Dr Sherwood Forrester on

          Ahyup. Senators are considered to represent the whole state, so the decision is left to the highest executive and legislative entities in each state. And there is no requirement whatsoever that the replacement for a deceased or incapacitated Senator be of the same party.

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