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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Note to Governor Haley: DON'T DO IT!

The 17th Amendment (1913) established direct election of senators, as well as a means of filling vacant Senate seats. It lets state legislatures empower the governor to appoint a replacement to complete the term or to hold office until a special election.  

Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) has announced that he will resign from the Senate to head the Heritage Foundation. There is some speculation that Governor Nikki Haley might fill the slot herself. As several other governors have done, she could resign from office and have her successor name her to the Senate -- a maneuver amounting to self-appointment.  That move would be a big mistake. In 2009, Ken Rudin explained at NPR that voters resent self-appointment and governors usually lose when they try it.  He offered the complete list of governors appointed to the Senate and the result of the succeeding election:
Montana, 1933 — Sen. Thomas Walsh (D) died. Gov. John Erickson (D) appointed self, lost 1934 primary.
Kentucky, 1939 — Sen. Marvel Logan (D) died. Gov. Happy Chandler (D) appointed self, won elections in 1940 and 1942.
Nevada, 1945 — Sen. James Scrugham (D) died. Gov. Edward Carville (D) appointed self, lost 1946 primary.
Idaho, 1945 — Sen. John Thomas (R) died. Gov. Charles Gossett (D) appointed self, lost 1946 primary.
Wyoming, 1960 — Sen.-elect Keith Thomson (R) died. Gov. John J. Hickey (D) appointed self, lost 1962 election.
New Mexico, 1962 — Sen. Dennis Chavez (D) died. Gov. Edwin Mechem (R) appointed self, lost 1964 election.
Oklahoma, 1963 — Sen. Robert Kerr (D) died. Gov. J. Howard Edmondson (D) appointed self, lost 1964 primary.
South Carolina, 1965 — Sen. Olin Johnston (D) died. Gov. Donald Russell (D) appointed self, lost 1966 primary.
Minnesota, 1977 — Sen. Walter Mondale (D) elected vice president. Gov.Wendell Anderson (D) appointed self, lost 1978 election.