Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Whence the Dominoes Fall

It looks like a lot of my fellow Republican blogs are adding or trying to add bloggers. In that vein, I would like to announce the latest addition to our stable of guest bloggers, former Arizona Republican National Committeeman and John McCain's Presidential Campaign Director for Southern Arizona, Mike Hellon.

Generally, what we like to do is give our guests a topic or series of topics to concentrate on in areas where they have a special interest or knowledge. For Mike's first article, we asked him to document what would happen to Senator McCain's current Senatorial slot should he win the presidency. Here is his article:


Whence the Dominoes Fall

by Mike Hellon

Should Senator John McCain be elected President of the United States in November 2008, Arizona politics will get even more interesting very quickly.

His term as the senior United States Senator from Arizona does not expire until January 2011, with the person filling the following term to be elected in November 2010. As President-elect, McCain would presumably resign his Senate seat sometime between November 5, 2008 (the day after the 2008 general election) and January 20, 2009 (the day he would be sworn into office as President).

The provisions for selecting his successor are set forth in A.R.S. 16-222. The provisions themselves are fairly straightforward; the ramifications are more interesting.

Paragraph A of 16-222 provides that in the event of a vacancy in a Congressional seat, a special primary election must be held within one-hundred five days of the vacancy and a special general election within another forty-five days after that.

A vacancy in a U.S. Senate seat, however, is dealt with differently in Paragraph C. It provides that “For a vacancy in the office of United States Senator, the governor shall appoint a person to fill the vacancy. That appointee shall be of the same political party as the person vacating the office and shall serve until the person elected at the next general election is qualified and assumes office.

Thus, as governor, Janet Napolitano would decide who should replace Senator McCain, appointing the chosen one to fill the vacant term until the 2010 general election. The only restriction on her is that the appointee must be a Republican and, presumably, otherwise qualified to hold the office. In effect, her appointee would be completing the balance of McCain’s term, since it expires then anyway. Theoretically, of course, Janet could switch parties and appoint herself. Not a likely event since, among other considerations, it would make Jan Brewer governor. It does, however, illustrate the variables at work. Another possibility would be for Jim Pederson or some other favored Democrat to switch parties and receive the appointment. Again, possible but not likely.

Janet is reported to be interested in McCain’s Senate seat for herself. Her term as governor also ends in 2011, with her replacement (she is prevented by law from running for a third term) also elected in the 2010 election. That, if no other reason, almost guarantees that her appointee to the vacant Senate seat would not be a strong, viable, well-known Republican, who could be expected to be a formidable candidate in 2010. This is not to say that the appointee, after serving a few months in the Senate, wouldn’t like the job. He or she could very well decide to run for a full term of his or her own; notwithstanding all of the other powerful Republican personalities interested in the seat. All of this simply means that we would very likely have a spirited Republican primary for the Senate seat in 2010, possibly including the incumbent, with the nominee potentially facing Janet in the general election.

Who might run in November 2010? My guess is that you can count on at least one Congressman (maybe a couple of them, and maybe a former one), which, in turn, would leave at least one open Congressional seat. Whoever would succeed to the open Congressional seat, would occupy it for only one term, before redistricting could be expected to completely alter the political landscape for the 2012 elections.

However this ultimately unfolds, it is clear that any strong and viable Republican, hoping to succeed to President John McCain’s seat in the United States Senate, should not expect any help from the governor by way of appointment to a vacancy. It will have to be done the old fashioned way – by winning a contested primary in 2010, possibly against a Republican incumbent.


Anonymous said...


Most thought provoking and intelligent. I consider it unfortunate that certain folks who will remain unnamed tried to push Huffman over Graf. They choose poorly.

A Hellon/Giffords match in November would have been more meaningful, and productive, whatever the outcome.

I hope Mike seeks office again, at the time and slot of his choosing.

sirocco said...

I agree I thought Hellon was the best of the Republican candidates in the AZ 8 primary ... water under the bridge now.

The article is very interesting speculation, but it's predication on McCain winning the 2008 Presidential campaign makes it increasingly unlikely, unless something miraculous occurs in Iraq within the next 18 months.