Hoeven On Filling Senate Vacancies: "I'm Always Good With Going To The People"

Rep. Roscoe Streyle set off something of a firestorm with legislation that would change how North Dakota would fill vacancies in its representation in the U.S. Senate. Currently the U.S. Constitution requires that House vacancies be filled by a special election, but because Senators used to be picked by the state governments (up until the ratification of the 17th amendment), that document doesn’t address Senate vacancies.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]Hoeven’s response? He thinks it’s an issue for the Legislature to debate, but he generally “I’m always good with going to the people and having a vote and getting their input.”[/mks_pullquote]

So currently Senators are popularly elected, but in many states like North Dakota if they leave office for whatever reason the vacancy is filled by an appointment by the Governor. Streyle’s bill would change that and instead fill the vacancy by a special election.

There are politics involved here, because it has widely been rumored (and she isn’t exactly denying the rumors) that Senator Heidi Heitkamp wants to run for Governor. Obviously, if she ran and won (no easy task with given her likely opponents), Democrats would get a twofer. Heitkamp as Governor and whoever she appoints from the thin Democrat bench as Senator.

Republicans would rather Democrats not get a twofer. Thus, Streyle’s bill.

Now, we know how Heitkamp feels about the legislation, but what about North Dakota’s other Senator?

Last night Chris Berg asked Senator Hoeven about the issue on his 6:30 Point of View program (see the video above, it starts a little before the 8:00 mark). Hoeven’s response? He thinks it’s an issue for the Legislature to debate, but he generally “I’m always good with going to the people and having a vote and getting their input.”

I agree. Given the corruption problems with these sort of appointments in the past, why not just let the people decide?

Unless you’re a Democrat and you know the only way you’re going to put another Democrat in the Senate to replace Heitkamp for the foreseeable future is if he or she gets appointed.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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