Hypothetically speaking

News of South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson’s health issues prompted a quick civics lesson on how vacancies are filled in the United States Senate. Sometimes premature, even morbid, speculation is unavoidable — especially when control of the U.S. Senate could turn on a single vote. After newly-elected Governors (who fill U.S. Senate vacancies) take office next month, 24 Republican Senators come from states with Democratic Governors, and eighteen Democratic Senators are from states that have Republican Governors. New Jersey has one Senator that turns 83 next month, and another who is, at the very least, a topic of discussion by a federal grand jury looking at one of his private real estate deals. Hypothetically, if a vacancy in one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats were to exist before September 14, 2007, Governor Jon Corzine would appoint a new Senator and New Jersey voters would decide in a November 6, 2007 Special Election who should complete the remainder of the term. A vacancy in the office of Governor were to occur before September 14, 2007, the State Senate President would become the Acting Governor. A Special Election to fill the remaining 26 months of the Governor’s term would be held on November 6, 2007. By September 15 (or later, if the New Jersey Supreme Court were to deem in administratively feasible), the Democratic and Republican State Committees would each meet to select their party’s candidate for Governor. If the Acting Governor were to run in that Special Election, he would be required to quit his own re-election campaign for the State Senate. (Editor’s Note: PoliticsNJ.com outlined this process just a few days before James E. McGreevey resigned as Governor on August 12, 2004.)

Hypothetically speaking