Dec. 5, 2016 — Donald Trump may be looking to find cabinet members who bring him immediate tangible policy and political benefits. A new prospective appointee, if chosen, would even increase the president-elect’s strength in the United States Senate.
North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) made her way to New York yesterday to speak with Trump. If the president-elect tabbed her for an administration position, it would allow him to reach out to Democrats while simultaneously paving the way for incoming Gov. Doug Burgum (R) to appoint a Republican to replace her. Assuming John Kennedy (R) wins the Louisiana Senate run-off on Dec. 10, as expected, replacing Heitkamp would boost the Senate Republican Conference to 53 members.
The senator won a close upset victory in 2012, defeating one-term at-large Rep. Rick Berg (R) by a one-point margin. She is now preparing for what is likely to be a highly competitive 2018 re-election bid, but accepting a position in the Trump Administration would obviously require her to resign the Senate seat. With North Dakota voting patterns now going solidly Republican – Trump received 63 percent in the Nov. 8 election compared to 58 percent for Mitt Romney in 2012, and John McCain’s 53 percent eight years ago – Republican conversion prospects in a post-appointment election would be bright should Heitkamp depart.
Dec. 2, 2016 — Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is the US Attorney General-Designate as is common knowledge, and upon his confirmation to the position a situation filled with rather unique political intrigue will take center stage in Alabama’s capital city.
Gov. Robert Bentley (R) has the responsibility of filling any US Senate vacancy with at least an interim appointment, and then calling a special election to fill the remaining balance of the term. In this case, the special election for Sessions seat will likely be scheduled concurrently with the 2018 regular primary and general voting cycle. The winner then serves until the next in-cycle election, which will be 2020 for this particular Senate position.
Most of the time, the special election is run concurrently with the regular election cycle, but it doesn’t have to be scheduled in such a manner according to Alabama election law. Since the state is solidly Republican, the individual who Bentley appoints will have a major advantage in capturing the party nomination, and then the seat whenever the special is called.
Dec. 1, 2016 — Yesterday, House Democrats caucused and chose their leadership team for the 115th Congress. The major contested battle featured a race for Minority Leader, the first time that Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12) had been seriously challenged since she won the Democrats’ top intra-party position in the post-2002 election period.
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH-13) had been running hard for the internal post, but appeared to be making little headway. Of the 92 Democratic members who had announced their support for a Minority Leader candidate, only 12 had voiced support for Ryan. The other 80 were for incumbent Pelosi, meaning she would need only 20 more to secure the victory…assuming all of the announced hold true to their public position in a secret ballot contest.
With 63 women in the Democratic Conference, counting the Delegates from America’s territories who can vote in such elections, Pelosi has a strong base from which she began to develop her 100-vote support group. Of her 80 announced supporters, 25 are female.