Thursday, December 18, 2008

United States Senate - updates

It's almost Winter Solstice and the 2009 Senate is still unsettled - - - with three seats as yet undetermined.

[There are four, see update on Colorado here]

First, there is the still-no-definite-result in the election in Minnesota between incumbent Republican, Norm Coleman, and Al Franken, the Democratic challenger.  As the New York Times reports here, the contest remains too close to call, with the state Canvassing Board (Secretary of State and four judges) still interpreting squiggles and scribbles  - - - an image of a problematical ballot provides a good illustration.  The Minnesota Supreme Court has meanwhile been considering the issue of whether 1600 absentee ballots have been counted twice;  the Minneapolis Star-Tribune here, with the Canvassing Board conducting a hearing on the same issue today, story here.  Favorite quote from the story by Mike Kaszuba for the Star-Tribune:

The hearing in a packed room began with Justice Paul Anderson testily responding to Roger Magnuson, the lead attorney for Coleman, who compared Minnesota's recount to the 2000 presidential election dispute that focused on the counting of ballots in Florida. "This is not Florida," said Anderson.

Second, there is the uncertainty surrounding a Senate seat for Illinois once occupied by President-Elect Obama. Ordinarily, the state governor would appoint someone to fill the vacancy, but Governor Blagojevich has been indicted based in part of allegations about that very Senate seat being "for sale." The Illinois Supreme Court rejected the petition filed by the state attorney general "without comment" - - - story by Rick Pearson  with pdf copies of orders on the Chicago-Tribune blog here.  Hearings on impeachment before the state legislature and a vigorous defense make for dramatic reading, among the many stories is this morning's in the Chicago tribune here.

Last, and certainly not least, is the New York Senate seat occupied by Hillary Clinton, who would vacate it if she is confirmed as Secretary of State.  David Paterson, New York's Governor (who assumed the position after the former-governor succumbed to scandal), has the power to appoint someone to fill the vacancy.  The newest contender seems to be Caroline Kennedy.  Kennedy's seeking the seat has prompted many letters, blog entries, and op-eds, but this brief bit from a New York Times story captures the controversy:

With no prior experience in elected office, Ms. Kennedy is setting out to demonstrate that she is ready to handle the rigors of New York politics. Yet her allies fear that to appear to campaign openly would appear presumptuous and provoke Mr. Paterson, who had already signaled his worry, before Ms. Kennedy made her interest clear on Monday, that the jockeying over who would succeed Mrs. Clinton had become undignified.

"Undignified."  Hmm......


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