Friday, August 07, 2009

Governors Who Self-Appoint Lose

Governors Who Appoint Themselves to Senate Lose

Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, just a day after voting Yes on Sotomayor, pulls a Palin and resigns. It's not a total shock as he long ago announced he wasn't running; one possible angle is he's looking at the presidency of Florida State.

Fellow Republican Gov. Charlie Crist is already up and running for the seat. Q: Why not give yourself a year's head start? A: Because you will LOSE.

NPR's Ken Rudin looked at this the day after Rod Blagojevich was arrested, as we were speculating that with nothing to lose he might just appoint himself to the Obama seat. He lists nine self-appointees in the era of popular election to the Senate. "Only one was able to win a subsequent election on his own. Kentucky Gov. Albert B. "Happy" Chandler (D), who came to the Senate in 1939, won in a special election in 1940 and again in 1942."

The last to try was Minnesota's Wendell Anderson in 1976 when Walter Mondale became vice president. I grew up on the border and I still remember the ads about his attendance: "Wendell Anderson appointed himself to the Senate then didn't show up for work."

"They're still calling that 1978 election the 'Minnesota Massacre,'" writes Rudin. "Republican Rudy Boschwitz trounced Sen. Anderson in November. Gov. Perpich lost his bid for a full term to GOP Congressman Al Quie. And in the race for the other Senate seat — a special election necessitated by the death of Hubert Humphrey — the Democrats carved each other up in the primary and the seat went to Republican Dave Durenberger."

Charlie Crist is one of the smarter Republicans around these days. He won't set himself up for the bashing a self-appointment would bring. He'll find himself a loyal, Ted Kaufmann style place-holder.

I don't know the modern record for number of appointed senators sitting at once, but this will make five and we could get up to six if Kay Bailey Hutchison follows through on her will-she-or-won't-she resignation to run for governor. (Texas has a hybrid system: immediate appointment followed by hurry-up special election).

And saddest of all: if he missed a vote on a Supreme Court nominee, Ted Kennedy must be in worse shape than we thought.

No comments: