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Senate Dem 58   GOP 41   Ties 1
House Dem 257   GOP 178  

Map of the 2010 Senate Races
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News from the Votemaster

Bunning Threatens to Use Political Nuclear Weapon

Republicans have been publically and privately pushing Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) to retire at the end of his current term, which ends in 2010. They have also suggested that they might support a primary challenge to him. He is getting really angry with them and has supposedly now threatened to resign from the Senate if they don't stop this. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), knows precisely what the consequences of a Bunning retirement would mean: The governor of his own state, Kentucky, Democrat Steve Beshear, would appoint Bunning's successor, possibly Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo (D-KY). That would give the Democrats 59 seats. If Al Franken wins his election contest in Minnesota, then the Democrats would have 60 seats in the Senate and the Republicans would be toast. So now McConnell is hostage to not only Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Arlen Spector, but to Bunning as well. Nobody said being minority leader was easy. Bunning has always been a bit of loose cannon, so McConnell has to take threat seriously.

Gov. Quinn Wants to Force Burris from the Senate

Gov Pat Quinn (D-IL) has a plan to force embattled senator Roland Burris (D-IL) from the Senate. The plan is based on the text of the 17th amendment, which actually requires senators to be chosen in statewide elections (before that they were chosen by the state legislatures). Here is the text of the amendment:

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of each State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

Quinn's message is that the amendment says that vacancies are to be filled by elections, however the governor may make temporary appointments until the election is held. If Burris does not resign within 2 weeks, he will ask the state legislature to pass a law calling for a special election for Burris' seat. Once that election is held and a winner declared, the temporary appointment made by former governor Blagojevich will come to an end and the winner of the election will be seated. Of course, Burris can run for election, but the odds of his winning are pretty low. Burris could appeal to the Supreme Court saying that the law calling for special elections wasn't in place when he was appointed, but the basic text seems to call for an election and it says nothing about when the election law was passed or when the election is held. Special elections are held for all vacant House seats and for Senate seats in a handful of states so it will be hard to argue that special elections are unconstitutional.

The 17th amendment has an interesting history. Wikipedia has a nice article on it.

Palin Leads in 2012 Republican Nomination Poll

In a new Opinion Research poll, Alaska governor Sarah Palin leads the field by a small amount in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. The leading contenders are the people who were prominent in 2008. Here are the numbers.

      - Sarah Palin 28%
      - Mike Huckabee 26%
      - Mitt Romney 21%
      - Bobby Jindal 9%
      - Other/don't know 16%

The poll was taken before Jindal's speech earlier this week, which was universally panned by Democrats and Republicans alike. He may not be ready for prime time yet, but the race won't get started in earnest until after the 2010 elections, so he has time to learn the ropes. A Palin-Huckabee fight for the evangelical vote could result in an even split, potentially causing Romney to be the nominee due to the way the Republican rules work. Most primaries are winner take all. If, for example, the vote in a state is Palin 28%, Huckabee 28%, Romney 29%, then Romney would get all the delegates. But keep in mind, 2012 is a long ways away and other candidates who might be a serious threat to Romney (e.g., Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota) might enter the fray in 2011.

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