News from the Votemaster
Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY) has died of cancer according to a report in CQ Politics.
Under Wyoming law (and also Utah law), if one of the Senate seats becomes vacant due to resignation, death, or expulsion of the senator, the state central committee of the senator's party is required to draw up a list of three candidates to replace the senator. The governor then chooses one of the candidates, who then becomes a senator until the next election.
How will this play out in Wyoming? The Wyoming Republican party will give Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D) a list of three candidates, presumably all Republicans. Freudenthal will choose one, who will become a senator immediately, but has to stand for relection to the remainder of Thomas' term in 2008. That term lasts until 2012.
It is a safe bet that Freudenthal will choose the one he thinks least likely to win in 2008. This means that the Republicans have to come up with not one strong candidate, but three. This event means that both Wyoming Senate seats will up for reelection in 2008, increasing the number of Republican Senate seats on the table from 21 to 22 (vs. the Democrats 12). While Wyoming is a fairly Republican state, having the new guy win is not a no-brainer. Freudenthal (D) was just reelected with an incredible 70% of the vote and at-large Rep. Barbara Cubin (R) just hung on by the skin of her teeth. Also, historically, appointed senators lose more often than they win because although incumbents, they did not get the job the usual way--by winning an election.
I suspect Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and chairman of the DSCC will suddenly discover that he needs some of that wonderful Wyoming mountain air and have a talk with his new best friend, Dave Freudenthal. While Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY) is a safe bet for reelection, another formerly Republican open seat (like the one in Colorado) is not going to help the Republicans take back the Senate.
In addition, having a senator die from cancer will remind people that cancer is no laughing matter. It will also bring up the subject that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has had three bouts with malignant melanoma, former senator Fred Thompson has incurable non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and former mayor Rudy Giuliani had prostate cancer. With any of these three candidates, the Democrats will keep quiet but organizations like moveon.org will keep bringing up the nightmare scenario of a President badly worn out by chemotherapy but refusing to turn the reins over the the Veep.
This page is the prototype for 2008. The data and map will refer to previous elections until serious polls begin in 2008. The blog will be updated when there is interesting news about the 2008 races.Preview of the 2008 races: President Senate House
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-- The Votemaster