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Senate Control Should NEVER Change Hands by a Governor Disregarding The Will Of His People

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Message Brent Budowsky
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As these words are written it appears that Senator Johnson is doing well with the real prospect of a full recovery. As we hope and pray for the best, it is time to take stock of the potential for the next two years becoming an ongoing constitutional crisis in the U.S. Senate.

With the Senate virtually evenly divided, there is the real prospect of a series of health issues, acts of God, accidents of fate, creating the near permanent possibility that control of the Senate could shift back and forth, more than once.

Let me propose a rule, and the procedures to implement the rule, that should apply to both political parties and governors of every state.

The rule: if something happens to a Senator who for whatever reason leaves office, and is replaced by the Governor of the state, the Governor should appoint a successor from the same political party. Period.

The procedure: the National Governors Association should formally call on all Governors, from all states, regardless of party, to publicly commit themselves to honor this rule and ALWAYS appoint a successor from the same party, as the former Senator.

The reason is simple and crystal clear: if the voters have elected a United States Senator, for a Governor to appoint a successor from the other political party is a dishonor to the voters of that state, a direct attack on the democratic process in that State, and a partisan violation of the integrity and honor of the democratic system.

In the case of South Dakota, the voters of South Dakota have elected the Democrat, Senator Johnson, while the voters of America have elected the Democrats, to control the Senate.

For a Republican Governor to appoint a Republican Senator to that seat would be an aggressive dishonor of what the voters of South Dakota and America have decided in our democratic elections.

I would add, the exact same abuse would occur if a Republican Senator from another State, ultimately has to be replaced by a Democratic Governor, and the Democratic governor named a Democrat also in violation of the will of the voters of that State.

In my opinion, any governor who committed such an abuse should be defeated for reelection, and if state law includes a recall procedure, should be recalled and removed.

America is fed up with partisan politics.

America is fed up with the "win at any cost" attitude that has corrupted our electoral process.

America is fed up with the abuses of the democratic process that have become a way of life, for far too long.

Americans have voted in 2006 for an end to this petty partisan corruption and these abuses of democratic values.

With the stakes so high, control of either House of Congress should NEVER, never change hands because of a partisan governor abusing, ignoring, and showing contempt for the voters of his, or her, state. If the voters elected a Democrat, the governor should appoint a Democrat as successor. If the voters elected a Republican, the governor should appoint a Republican as successor.

I predict: if any governor ever violates this standard, and control of Congress changes because of this naked partisan violation, the voters of that state would soon end the political career of that governor, and they should.

Let us hope and pray that Senator Johnson makes a full and complete recovery and that every Senator, from both parties, serves out their term in good health.

But let us also be determined that this issue, if necessary, is worthy of a hard and aggressive fight if any governor violates the will of the people, fails to respect their vote, and tries a partisan power play that would be the kind of attack on our democracy that the voters of America have spoken loudly, and clearly, against.

Brent Budowsky
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Brent Budowsky is a regular columnist on He served as Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen, responsible for commerce and intelligence matters, including one of the core drafters of the CIA Identities Law. Served (more...)

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