New Senate: 51 Democrats 49 Republicans
News from the Votemaster
Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) fell ill yesterday with stroke-like symptoms and was taken to George Washington University Hospital where he was operated on. His sudden illness is not only a medical emergency, but also a political emergency. If he is in danger of dying, he will no doubt be hooked up to life-sustaining medical equipment, in which case a video tape of him could be made and send to Dr. Bill Frist for a diagnosis. Frist, a former heart surgeon and former senator, has extensive experience in telling whether people are alive or dead by viewing videotapes of them.
If Johnson should die before Jan. 4, his successor will be chosen by South Dakota governor Mike Rounds (R), which will tip the Senate back to the Republicans. If he is still alive on Jan. 4, after the Senate has been organized, it is not clear what happens. Normally, when the majority switches midsession, the committee chairmanships do not switch. In 1954, for example, the Republicans started out in control, but after several replacements, there were more Democrats than Republicans in the Senate, but the Republicans retained control of the committee chairmanships. The only exception was in 2001, when the Senate began 50-50 but later Sen. Jim Jeffords (R-VT) became Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-VT) and the Democrats took control until the 2002 elections.
If a senator is seriously ill and cannot perform his duties, he is still a senator and is not replaced. In 1942, for example, Sen. Robert Wagner (D-NY) did not attend any sessions of the Senate at all due to a heart ailment, but continued to be a member of the Senate.
Looking forward to 2008, we have a complicated situation. Johnson is up for reelection and is without a doubt, the Republicans number 1 target due to the narrowness of his 2002 election. If he is still the incumbent in 2008 and chooses not to run, the obvious Democratic candidate to replace him is Stephanie Herseth (D-SD), the only member of Congress from South Dakota. As such, she has run statewide campaigns before, most recently in 2006, when she won reelection with a whopping 70% of the vote. From her point of view, running statewide for the Senate is no different than running statewide for the House, so she is a popular experienced candidate. Of course, a Senate race will draw a stronger challenger against her, most likely South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds (R). Of course this is all speculation at this point. Johnson may recover completely and continue to serve.
While we are on the subject of senatorial health, Sen. Craig Thomas (D-WY) has been diagnosed with leukemia and is receiving treatment for it. Should his seat fall vacant, his successor will be appointed by Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D). However, Wyoming law stipulates that the governor must choose the new senator from a list of three candidates drawn up by the incumbent party. Thus in Wyoming, a Senate vacancy never results in the seat switching parties, South Dakota has no such law. Thus we have the asymmetric situation of one state (SD) with a Democratic senator and a Republican governor in which the seat would switch parties in the event of a vacancy and another state (WY) with a Republican senator and a Democratic governor in which it would not.
For a rundown on the 2008 presidential race, click here.
For a rundown on the 2008 Senate races, click here.
For a rundown on the 2008 House races, click here.
Projected New House: 233 Democrats 201 Republicans 1 Tie
Dem pickups: AZ-05 AZ-08 CA-11 CO-07 CT-02 CT-05 FL-16 FL-22 IA-01 IA-02 IN-02 IN-08 IN-09 KS-02 KY-03 MN-01 NC-11 NH-01 NH-02 NY-19 NY-20 NY-24 OH-18 PA-04 PA-07 PA-08 PA-10 TX-22 TX-23 WI-08
See the details of the Senate and House races with photos, maps, links, polls, etc.
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-- The Votemaster