No, I am not talking about the seating of the 111th session of the US Senate that convenes on January 6. Everybody knows about that, and it is much too mundane to compete with the rest of the news about Senators that is out there. Or possible Senators anyway.
The Choice is Made? #1
First off, it looks like Caroline Kennedy will be getting the nod from New York Governor Patterson. It is still not official, with the official word from the Governor that he is still open for others. On the other hand, he has also said he will not appoint an caretaker senator until the required 2010 election. This really limits him, since if the appointee wins that election, they will have to run again in 2012 for the full term. 2 races for senate in less than 4 years will be realy hard to handle, both financially and physically.
Yes, members of the House have to run every 2 years. But they only have to run and win in their particular districts. Senators have to cover the entire state, trying to cover as much of it as possible, which takes its toll. The strain is eased somewhat in New York, since so much of the population is in New York City. But ignoring the upstate area is dangerous, at least some token attempt must be made to listen to their views and needs.
The Choice is made? #2
So the indicted Governor of Illinois made a decision about who will take Obama’s remaining term in the Senate. But nobody seems to be very happy about it. Especially the Democrats in the Senate.
Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com has been writing about it, with uneven success. His latest post dealing with the seating of Burris is much better, with links to consitutional scholars on both sides of the arguement about seating Burris. I am not a constitutional scholar, nor a lawyer in any way. But of course I have an opinion.
Blagojevich does have the authority to name someone to fill Obama’s term. He hasn’t been impeached or removed from office, and the Illinois legislature has not changed the law that gives him that power. So from my layman’s point of view, legally, Burris’ appointment seems aboveboard and he should be seated.
The big problem I see is that Blagojevich named Burris just to poke the Democratic leadership in the eye. He knows that with him under a cloud at present, any appointment he makes will be sharing that storm. The actual amounts that Burris and his firm have donated to various Blagojevich campaigns is miniscule in comparison to what Blagojevich was purportedly trying to sell the seat for. And the fact that Burris donated is not remarkable at all.
Blagojevich has shown that he does not really care for the future of the Democratic Party, the people of Illinois, or the country as a whole. He knew when he named Burris that it would create problems both in his state and in the US Senate. With the current problems facing the world, creating more when it could be avoided is something reveals either a lack of intelligence or morality. And Blagojevich is not someone that appears unintelligent.
Burris has also come across as much less honorable then he should be. He knew before he accepted the appointment that the Governor is under a cloud. And that both the President-elect and the Democrats in the Senate had asked Blagojevich to step down and not name a replacement. So Burris is going against the leadership of the party, knowingly doing something that will cause them problems. Apparently just because he finally sees a way of reaching a goal that has always been out of his reach, high power in an elected office.
I suppose the real reason I oppose seating Burris is that if he does become a Senator this way, it will be rewarding both him and Blagojevich for making choices that are, at best, of dubious morality.
Meanwhile, in Minnesota, they still don’t know who will be showing up for work in the Senate. There was a proposal that whoever was in the lead at the end of counting should be seated provisionally until the court cases were finished. But it looks like the Republicans do not like that option, since Al Franken is up by 49. Which is kind of odd, since Republicans did allow Democrat Mary Landrieu to be seated in 1996 while an investigation into fraud was ongoing. I guess possible fraud is better than losing by 49 votes.
What is interesting is how Coleman’s lawyers are saying there will be a court battle after the recount is done. I guess he doesn’t feel that he should take his own advice about letting the healing process begin.
Update: And the Minnesota Supreme Court now wants more information from Franken concerning Coleman’s latest filing. But they won’t have new instructions for the Canvasing Board before the board starts counting Saturday morning. If the Court has done their job in the first place and set standards for which ballots to count, rather than telling the campaigns to agree on standards, this could have been avoided.
This is how to do it
Now in Colorado, they are doing it the right way. The governor has made a decision and it is not full of drama. Governor Bill Ritter will probably be naming Michael Bennet to fill Ken Salazar’s senate seat, assuming that Salazar is confirmed as Obama’s Secretary of the Interior. This is apparently somewhat surprising, since Bennet does not have extensive experience in legislature.
On the other hand, he managed to convince the teachers in the state to agree to merit pay, and filled his promises about improving the eduation system in Denver. That by itself makes him a good candidate for higher office. As long as he avoids making too many promises.