January 26, 2009

Senator Who? Michael Bennet And Russ Feingold's Planned Constitutional Amendment

As Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Who?) continues his whirlwind "Getting To Know You" tour of Colorado, state Dems are busy propping up the still-puzzling choice of appointee:
"He's doing everything he needs to do," said Colorado Democratic Party chair Pat Waak.

"He is really treating this like it is a campaign." she said. "He is spending every single available moment he has meeting and talking to people. He understands he needs to appeal to everyone in this state, not just Denver. He is making personal connections with people and that's how you get elected in Colorado, so I think it's great."
He'll need those connections if he is to buck the rather daunting historical odds of winning election on his own in 2010.

So what does this have to do with Russ Feingold (D-Campaign Finance Reform)?

Looks like he plans to introduce an amendment to the Constitution barring gubernatorial appointees and mandating elections for all future Senate replacements:
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, issued the following statement today on plans to introduce an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to end appointments to the Senate by state governors and require special elections in the event of a Senate seat vacancy.

“The controversies surrounding some of the recent gubernatorial appointments to vacant Senate seats make it painfully clear that such appointments are an anachronism that must end. In 1913, the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution gave the citizens of this country the power to finally elect their senators. They should have the same power in the case of unexpected mid term vacancies, so that the Senate is as responsive as possible to the will of the people. I plan to introduce a constitutional amendment this week to require special elections when a Senate seat is vacant, as the Constitution mandates for the House, and as my own state of Wisconsin already requires by statute. As the Chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee, I will hold a hearing on this important topic soon.”
Just last week, Colorado State Sen. Mike Kopp announced plans to introduce a bill that would achieve the same objective for the state (and which would have a much lower threshold of passing) in calling for special elections to fill a vacant Senate seat. The lefties at ColoradoPols called it a "gaming" move of "political expediency" that is ultimately "self-serving."

So, what will they think of Feingold's proposed Constitutional amendment?

The widely discussed appointments in Colorado, Illinois, and New York--all three in which Democrat governors appointed Democrat replacements--have elicited reactions from puzzled bewilderment (Senator Who? in Colorado) to scandal (Gov. Rod Blagojevich, D-Highest Bidder) to entitlement (you know, New York, you know). After these well-publicized fiascos, why not require special elections for open Senate vacancies?

Colorado's newest Senator was appointed by an indecisive governor predisposed to calling for "blue ribbon" panels for just about everything, and even soliciting the public's input on who should replace the outgoing Sen. Ken Salazar, who had been tapped for President Barack Obama's cabinet. Apparently that input went largely ignored.

Exit question: Will the fact that the party responsible for bringing so much attention to this generally infrequent procedure diminish or augment public support for such a measure?

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