Recently re-elected Senator Craig Thomas has died.
Here, for the ghoulishly curious, is the relevant part W.S. § 22-18-111, the relevant Wyoming law on how a vacant Senate seat gets filled:
(i) If a vacancy occurs in the office of United States senator or in any state office other than the office of justice of the supreme court and the office of district court judge, the governor shall immediately notify in writing the chairman of the state central committee of the political party which the last incumbent represented at the time of his election under W.S. 22-6-120(a)(vii), or at the time of his appointment if not elected to office. The chairman shall call a meeting of the state central committee to be held not later than fifteen (15) days after he receives notice of the vacancy. At the meeting the state central committee shall select and transmit to the governor the names of three (3) persons qualified to fill the vacancy. Within five (5) days after receiving these three (3) names, the governor shall fill the vacancy by temporary appointment of one (1) of the three (3) to hold the office.
So the state GOP proposes three names, the (Democratic) Governor picks one.
However, if I read the following correctly, the appointed Senator serves only until a special election (held at the next general election) to determine who will fill out the rest of the term:
Any vacancy in any other elective office in the state except representative in congress or the board of trustees of a school or community college district, shall be filled by the governing body, or as otherwise provided in this section, by appointment of a temporary successor to serve until a successor for the remainder of the unexpired term is elected at the next general election and takes office on the first Monday of the following January.
Congressional representatives have their own statute. I presume the next general election is November 2008, but invite correction if there is one earlier.
Wyoming has two senators and ONE representative (Barbara Cubin), all Republicans.
2008 will see ALL THREE seats up for election: Sen. Mike Enzi, whoever is appointed to fill Thomas’ seat and the congressional seat.
TO HAVE ALL THREE SEATS UP AT THE SAME TIME IS UNPRECEDENTED (I think).
Here’s where it gets interesting.
Cubin, who survived a ferocious challenge from Democrat Gary Trauner (by half a percentage point) could be one of the three nominated to fill Thomas’ seat. Although Gov. Dave loaths Babs, he just might appoint her to place a vulnerable person in Thomas’ seat, thus increasing the odds that it might be captured by a Democratic challenger (Trauner?).
Of the three, Enzi is a strong incumbent. Unless he stumbles, or a scandal can be hung on his neck that the public can easily grasp (not something complicated like the bankruptcy “reform” or the Medicare prescription bill), Enzi can’t be beat.
But the other two seats are certainly in play. Cubin has demonstrated her vulnerability numerous times (threatening to slap the Libertarian candidate in his wheelchair), so the GOP may decide to leave her twisting in the wind and put all their chips into someone who can hold onto that Senate seat.
(Analysis of campaign contributions in ’06 indicates that some of Cubin’s earlier supporters kept their wallets closed in ’06. Since the margin is so close in the Senate, the big donors may write Babs off and put all their money on the Thomas’ senate seat.)
In any event, Trauner is going to be under great pressure to go after the old Thomas senate seat. It would simply be icing on the cake if it was held by Babs. No love lost there.
The statute may be sensible, but I sense a Constitutional issue. Is there a seventeenth amendment specialist in the house?