Senate Vacancies?

I just found out that Sen. Paul Coverdale of Georgia died today. My question, is how will his seat be filled? The 17 admendment says:

So that seems to say that it’s up to the Georgia state legislature to decide if the gov. of GA gets to pick a temporary replacement until they have an election. Does anyone know if that’s how Georgia does it? What makes this interesting it the fact that Sen. Coverdale was a Republican and Roy Barnes, the governor,is a Democrat. So it would be possible for the seat to change sided temporarily at least, right? Has this happened before (seat changing parties due to vacancy/appointment by gov.)

What happens is that the governor of the state appoints a temporary senator until the state legislature decides on a time to hold a special election to fill out the term.

Remember, senators used to be elected by the state legislatures, the amendment changed that to direct elections.

In general, when a Senator dies in Office, the governor of that State appoints a temporary replacement (it used to be a common practice to appoint the Senator’s widow) to hold the seat until a new election can be scheduled.

If the governor of Georgia appoints a Republican, it won’t be the first time a death has led to a change of parties. Example: In 1968, Robert Kennedy was the Democratic senator from New York. After he was shot by Sirhan Sirhan, New York’s Republican governor Nelson Rockefeller appointed a Republican, Charles Goodell, to be the new Senator.

Sure, it’s possible for the seat to change parties due to the governor’s choice of appointee. Not to be morbid, but some SC Democrats are hoping for Ol’ Strom ® to kick it while Governor Hodges (D) is still in office so the seat will be Democratic, at least until the next election. I would imagine it’s happened before. South Carolina has had instances of senator’s death/governor’s appointment, but the ones I know of occurred while the Democrats had a virtual monopoly on the state. So I don’t know of a specific instance. I’ll try to find one.

Fun fact!
Sometimes they allow the widows to carry on their husband/wives term. Swear I can’t recite specific cases at the moment, but I believe Huey P. Long’s wife filled in after his death. Same goes with Sonny Bono. My information may not be accurate, but i’m half asleep at the wheel.


IIRC, [I don’t know whether (or where) this would be codified], in most cases, if a member of the House dies, a special election is likely to happen relatively quickly - within a matter of weeks or a few months. However, the elections to fill a Senate seat almost always are held at the next regular federal election - so some of the temporary Senate appointees hold office for several months before being replaced. As a particular example - when Walter Mondale became Vice President in 1976, the governor of Minnesota at the time appointed himself to replace Mondale. This was not popular in the state, but he held the Senate seat for nearly two full years.

I believe that Congress has changed its seniority rules and made them much more flexible. The rank of members in a committee is designated by the chairman or the ranking minority member. In most cases, I believe it’s time on the committee that matters more than time in Congress.

For example, there are two Republicans who rank below Rep. Mary Bono on the House Judiciary Committee, but I believe both were elected before her, but they joined the Judiciary Committee after her.

Quick, we need some Parliamentarians here! Stat!