Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What happens to Obama's and Biden's Senate Seats?

One thing I didn't know, but starting checking out on the web, is a governmental question about what happens to a Senate seat if the Senator becomes President or Vice-President?

It turns out that if a U.S. Senator wins the Presidency or Vice-Presidency, the governor of their home state appoints someone to fill their seat. The appointee will fill out that term. So, for example, Obama's seat is up in two years. So, his replacement will have the Senate seat for two years. Biden, by the way, was up for reelection and won his Senate race, so his replacement will last the full term of six years.

Evidently, the governor can choose someone from any party and does not have to replace the Senate seat with someone of the same party.

Considering that both Illinois and Delaware currently have Democratic governors, this probably will be less of an issue, but the potential is there. If there is a party-change in the governorship, the President or Vice-President-elect can resign their seat and have a replacement appointed before the governor's term is up. Or they can wait (all the way up until being sworn into office), if they are waiting for a new governor.


Stephen C. Carlson said...

Almost right, but there is a little wrinkle. It depends on the state, but, after the governor appoints the senator, a special election will also be scheduled, usually by the next federal election if not sooner, to fill out the remainder of the term.

According to the Washington Post, for Delaware, the governor will appoint a senator, but there will be a special election in 2010 (not 2014) to fill out the remainder of the Biden term. Usually, but not always, the appointee will also run in the special election.

Unknown said...

There's also been speculation about Alaska. If Ted Stevens ends up winning but then going to jail (you just gotta admire how Alaskans love even those corrupt politicians whose corruption has been proven by official government oversight committees or juries), he will likely be expelled from the Senate by the fellow Senators. Apparently the governor (Palin, who very emphatically doesn't have another job waiting for her) has to call a special election within 60-90 days of whenever the seat is vacated, so while Palin might be able to make herself Senator temporarily, she couldn't appoint herself to permanently fill the seat, even for two years.

Unknown said...

Wyoming also had a senator die in office semi-recently. Their state law called for that senator's party in the state legislature to submit three names to the governor, and then the governor chooses one of those three names. (In this case, it preserved a Republican seat in the Senate at a time when Wyoming had a Democratic governor). This seems by far the fairest way I've heard of for keeping the original voting intent of the people intact.

Unknown said...

For Delaware, I've heard Joe Biden's son, Beau (now Del. Atty General) may have an inside track. For Illinois, I've heard Jesse Jackson, Jr. (now a Congressman), Amy Madigan (current Atty. General), and possibly Blagojevich might submit his own name (he's down to about 13% approval here, so he may want to jump ship).

Jared Calaway said...

Thanks for the corrections!

And, Stephen, I have your book on Secret Mark. Being the former Morton Smith Fellow at Columbia, I relished every moment of it! ;)