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Should There Be Special Elections When Senators Resign?


Senator Russ Feingold has plans to introduce a constitutional amendment that would call for special elections when a senator leaves Congress midterm.

In a press release, Feingold explained why he wants to end appointments by governors:

The controversies surrounding some of the recent gubernatorial appointments to vacant Senate seats make it painfully clear that such appointments are an anachronism that must end. In 1913, the 17th Amendment to the Constitution gave the citizens of this country the power to finally elect their senators. They should have the same power in the case of unexpected midterm vacancies, so that the Senate is as responsive as possible to the will of the people.

While the drama-filled headlines about Caroline Kennedy and Gov. Blagojevich make this amendment seem very prudent, there could be some unintended consequences. A president might become reluctant to appoint senators to administration positions for fear that a political rival may win a special election. In addition special elections come with a hefty price tag.

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