Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Senate Races You May Not Be Following

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Sure, if you've been following DCW, you can name all the Senators up next Tuesday. But there are other changes afoot. We could talk TLB Joe Lieberman, but not now. Nor Robert Byrd, who might be giving up his Chairmanship, and instead becoming "Chairman Emeritus". We could also talk who would get the Minority Leader if McConnell loses, but that is premature. That, along with the discussion I'm holding for after the election about how the Senate Republicans function if their entire 'tenured' bunch is gone. Who takes the reins? Who leads, who follows? Does their Senate agenda moderate or move further right?

For now, I'm talking about the fact that there will be either one brand new Senate face if McCain wins, and two if the Obama-Biden ticket wins. So who might replace them?

There are different state laws in place here. First, let's talk Arizona. I know, your initial thought is: can't Governor Nepolitano appoint whomever she wants? Actually, no, she is required by state law to appoint someone of the same party leaving the seat.

Her term (term limited) is up in 2010, and rumour has it that she'd like to run for the Senate. Therefore, she will probably be thinking of who she wants to run against. There are a couple of people interested in filling the position. Rumour has it former Rep. Jim Kolbe is high on her list. When he retired from the House last year, Napolitano appointed Kolbe to the Canamex Corridor Task Force, which deals with trade between Arizona, Mexico and Canada. However, he might not be acceptable to the GOP, since he is openly gay. Whoever gets the seat would fill out John's term, and therefore run in 2010.

On to Illinois. If Senator Obama becomes President Obama, his seat can be filled by a member of either party, and the appointment will come from Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Certainly, you've heard Jesse Jackson, Jr. express interest in the position, and rumours about the seat going to Tammy Duckworth have been floating for months.

But let's talk Rod. To say that he has potential ethics problems is like saying that Ted Stevens once accepted as a gift, a metal folding chair, instead of a $3000 Shiatsu Massage Chair. Also, under Illinois law, he can appoint himself. Remember, there's precedent about how the Senate deals with potential felons. I'm not saying the Senate would be safer than the governor's mansion, but....Also, he might want to appoint the state AG, there's a long-time "family feud", plus she might run against Rod, and this would take her out of the state.

But the most interesting is Delaware. If Joe Biden wins the Vice-Presidency, I am pretty sure that he would be the first sitting Senator to win that position and simultaneously win the Vice-Presidency. I'm pretty sure, but I'm counting on one of you to point out if if I am wrong. The logical choice would be Beau Biden, currently DE AG. But he's currently serving in Iraq. So a place-holder is needed, as the replacement election would be in 2010.

Ruth Ann Minner is the current governor, and if she wants it, she'd be a good choice as place-holder. She's 73. Her replacement will likely be Jack Markell, as he's polling at or above +30. He'd have to appoint her. And he actually can, because her term ends at 9 a.m. on January 20th, and, if elected, Senator Biden would become Vice President Biden at about noon on January 20th. Then again, if he wins, he could resign early, and let Governor Minner fill the seat, although she'd likely choose the current Lt. Governor, who might see himself more as "Senator" than "place holder."

On Sunday, 9 November, "Sunday with the Senators" will scope out the 2010 races, and in coming weeks, each will be framed individually.
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