Tuesday Night Round-Up
If Lamar Alexander makes a big push for the Conference Chairman position and loses to Hutchison, it will be a major embarrassment for him, as Alexander was also outvoted in last-minute maneuvering for the Whip spot leading up to the start of the current Legislative session. Jim DeMint and John Cornyn may also be in the scrum for leadership roles.
Meanwhile, Mississippi's top law enforcement official, state Attorney General Jim Hood, will keep a close eye on GOP Gov. Haley Barbour's scheduling of the special election, and will pursue legal action if he feels Barbour is bending the law. What is the actual law at hand? (Emphasis added by me.)
If a vacancy shall occur in the office of United States Senator from Mississippi by death, resignation or otherwise, the Governor shall, within ten (10) days after receiving official notice of such vacancy, issue his proclamation for an election to be held in the state to elect a Senator to fill such unexpired term as may remain, provided the unexpired term is more than twelve (12) months and the election shall be held within ninety (90) days from the time the proclamation is issued and the returns of such election shall be certified to the Governor in the manner set out above for regular elections, unless the vacancy shall occur in a year that there shall be held a general state or congressional election, in which event the Governor's proclamation shall designate the general election day as the time for electing a Senator, and the vacancy shall be filled by appointment as hereinafter provided.Do you notice the only word I emphasized? "Shall." Barbour is saying that, since Mississippi had its state election earlier this month, in the 2007 calendar year, he can bump the special election to Election Day 2008. Barbour's partisan goal, of course, is to give the appointee a year as the Senate "incumbent" to give the Republican a leg up on the Democrat come election time. However, legal experts, like state Attorney General Jim Hood, might suggest that the letter of the law indicates that, since "shall" is future tense, 2007 is no longer a year in which "there 'shall' be held a general state or congressional election" because the election has come and gone. 2007 is a year in which there was a state election, but it is no longer a year in which there shall be a state election - meaning that the special election has to be scheduled within 90 days from the time of proclamation. A little hard to follow, maybe, but that is the letter of the law, for you strict constructionists out there. With Lott planning on resigning before the end of 2007 in order to duck 2008's more stringent lobbying restrictions, expect the scheduling of the special election to result in a legal battle, over "shall."
With McWherter out, state Democratic Party spokesman Wade Munday told CQ Politics that the attentions of party officials have returned to Bob Tuke — a Vietnam veteran and former state Democratic chairman — and Nashville lawyer Kevin Doherty. Both Democrats had previously indicated an interest in running for Senate but deferred to McWherter.It looks like Tuke is ready to go. He would have deferred to McWherter, but had been enthusiastic about the possibility of a Senate challenge to Alexander. If I had to guess, I'd expect a Tuke announcement will come in the next couple weeks.