Thursday, March 27, 2008

Representative Al Wynn Resigns

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Representative (and Obama Superdelegate) Al Wynn announced his resignation this afternoon. He will leave office in June to allow Donna Edwards to go into the November election as an incumbent.

U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D-Md.), defeated in a Democratic primary for reelection to his seat in February, announced this afternoon that he will resign from Congress to take a job a local law firm.

Wynn, who spent 16 years in Congress representing a district including most of Prince George's County and part of Montgomery County, was defeated by insurgent Democratic candidate Donna F. Edwards in February. However, his eighth term was not to have concluded until January 2009. - Washington Post

Donna Edwards has already endorsed Obama but in order to become a superdelegate she will need to win in a special election. And until a special election is held, the superdelegate number drops by 1 to 793.

Our very own Charlie Anthe did a little investigating and found Maryland's Special Election rules.

The governor shall issue a proclamation within 10 days the vacancy becomes known to the Governor, declaring that a special election shall be held.
There must be at least 36 days from the date of the proclomation to the date of the primary election and at least another 36 days from the date of the primary election to the date of the general election.
However, there are some caveats to this:
(i) If the vacancy occurs within a window of 60 days before the general primary election and the last day of the congressional term, the Governor can choose to not issue a proclamation allow the office to remain vacant.
The window is in effect for (i), as Maryland's primary election was Feb 12th. Therefore, it's up to Maryland's Democratic governor Martin O'Malley to decide whether to hold the special election. It should be possible to schedule a special election to be finished prior to the Democratic convention, but it doesn't necessarily have to work out that way. And note that nothing will happen until Wynn actually resigns in June.

Update: One possibility for the Special Election is that it's set for the same day as the General Election. Assuming Donna Edwards wins both, she would get a 2-month leg up on seniority over her fellow incoming freshmen. This was most recently done in TX-22 and NJ-13 in 2006.

Update 2: Because the primary and general special election must be held on Tuesdays, its actually 36+42 = 78 days from the Governor's proclamation to the earliest a replacement can be elected. The last Tuesday before the convention is August 19, and 78 days before that is June 2. If Wynn's resigning in June, than he had better resign on June 1 if his replacement is to have any chance at being a superdelegate.


Charlie said...

It doesn't seem like that window is open because the law says the window is open if the vacancy comes "before" the election. Feb. 12 is in the past and thus not a part of the equation.

Am I confused?

Howard said...

Charlie - It says the period between 60 days before the primary (Feb. 12th) and the expiration of the term (next January), I believe.

I'm kind of curious whether politics will come into play here... The Governor of Maryland is a Clinton superdelegate, and if he was devious enough, he would just leave the seat open to prevent Obama from getting another superdelegate.

KCinDC said...

Even holding the special election in November would deprive Obama of a superdelegate, without preventing Donna Edwards from getting her extra seniority.

I do wonder whether presidential politics are really going to play a greater role than practicality (expense and schedule) in the decision. Maryland Democrats did go overwhelmingly for Obama in the Potomac primary, and O'Malley may not want to make them any more unhappy with him than they already are.

Matt said...

We're checking the calendar, but with a June resignation, it is very difficult to come up with a schedule that gets Wynn's replacement into Congress before the convention starts. We'll update the post when we've checked the numbers.

KCinDC said...

I don't know that there's any reason the special primary (or even the special election) couldn't happen before Wynn leaves office. After all, normal elections occur while the incumbent is still in office all the time.

But O'Malley has been made aware of the upcoming vacancy, so we'll know within 10 days whether he makes the proclamation and what it says.

Matt said...

KC - Yes, but those incumbents are legally required to leave office. Wynn can change his mind at any time. I've never heard of a situation where the elections are held prior to a future resignation. As you said, we shall see.

KCinDC said...

Following up on a Daily Kos comment I saw, it appears that on 8 Jan 2002 there was a special election in Oklahoma to fill a seat being vacated by Steve Largent, who resigned to run for governor, but whose resignation didn't take effect until 15 Feb.

KCinDC said...

Hmm, apparently that Oklahoma election required a special bill in the state legislature.

Matt said...

KC - I stand corrected - that's great info. We'll have to see what happens in MD.