Sarah’s Seat?


People are asking whether Sarah Palin will appoint herself to the U.S. Senate if/when Ted Stevens steps down. She may be able to, but according to a law, or laws, passed 4 years ago, a special election must be held within a couple of months. So what exactly are the rules?

Nobody can say for sure.

That’s because Alaska’s law on senatorial succession was changed twice in 2004 — once by the Legislature, and once by ballot initiative. Both laws call for a special election within 60 to 90 days of the vacancy. But they disagree on whether the governor appoints an interim senator in the meantime.

The Alaska Supreme Court would ultimately have to decide which law the state follows.

Other analysis of Alaska law makes things more clear.

Citizen reaction to former Governor Murkowski appointing his daughter, Lisa, to a vacant Senate seat in 2002 was a 2004 ballot initiative stripping the Governor of this power (56% to 44%). According to the Alaska Elections website (pdf), the 2002 initiative “repeal[s] state law by which theGovernor makes a temporary appointment of a person tofill a U.S. Senate vacancy until a special or regularelection can be held.”

Ok – so no appointments. That would be a bad idea for Sarah anyway – it would make her look weak, and like the consumate insider. Anyway, she’d likely have no problem winning the seat without any unfair advantages.

Whether the senate is the best place for Palin to head as preparation for a run for the presidency is the real question. On the one hand, going to Washington would make her part of Washington – and that’s usually bad. On the other hand, considering Sarah’s reputation for being big on local personality but small on national policy consciousness, becoming a beltway babe could be just what the electoral college ordered.

Either way, Stevens isn’t likely to stay in the senate all that long.

“The reality is that a convicted felon is not going to be able to serve in the United States Senate,” (Harry) Reid said. “And as precedent shows us, Senator Stevens will face an ethics committee investigation and expulsion, regardless of his appeals process.”

And what might happen if his colleagues do kick Stevens out of the Senate, prompting a special election? Who might be in line to replace him? Hint: lipstick; $150,000 wardrobe. Yep, you betcha! Sarah Palin.


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