Sunday, July 27, 2008

Why isn't Obama's replacement going to be elected instead of selected?

Assuming that Senator Barack Obama is elected our next President, then someone will have to decide who will be Illinois' junior U.S. Senator for the next two years.

Illinois law currently vests the Governor with the exclusive power to appoint a replacement to represent Illinois' 12 million citizens in the United States Senate.

Why don't the people get to decide?

Consider what happened when Speaker Dennis Hastert retired in the middle of his term last year. Instead of one person appointing a Member of the House for the last 9 months or so of the term, we held a special election and Bill Foster won.

Isn't that much better than having an appointment?

And if you think it's impractical, consider that there has never been a Member of the House of Representatives who has ever been appointed. Every single Member of the House, from the first days of the American Republic, has been elected by the people.

I want to be able to pick who my U.S. Senator is going to be for the next two years (if the American people elect Senator Obama as the next President). I don't think the Governor (whoever he or she happens to be) should make that decision for me.

This, by the way, is a question of state law. Other states do hold special elections. If John Kerry has been elected President, Massachusetts would have held a special election to fill out the rest of his term. If John McCain is elected President, Arizona law gives the Governor the power to appoint a replacement, but the appointment must be of the same party as the incumbent Senator. Illinois just gives the Governor unfettered discretion to appoint a replacement. We ought to change our law to hold a special election instead.

1 comment:

Reed said...

I totally agree. I think it's called democracy or something.