Special Elections Mounting – Senate

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 14, 2016 — Just as the 2016 election cycle ended with the Louisiana run-off elections last Saturday, a new round of voting is about to begin.

President-Elect Donald Trump’s selection of Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT-AL) as Interior Secretary adds yet another future special election to the growing number of House and Senate odd-numbered year electoral contests.

In addition to what could well become a competitive Montana statewide election in approximately 100 days or so, as many as five other campaigns will be calendared within approximately the same time frame depending upon individual state election laws.

With Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) appointed as Trump’s Attorney General-designate, and with speculation being rampant that Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) will become Agriculture Secretary, two new senators and a trio of US House members will be chosen.

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at the House; for now, here’s how things are beginning to formulate in the Senate:

Alabama: Upon confirmation as Attorney General, Sen. Sessions will resign his seat. Gov. Robert Bentley (R) can appoint a replacement, and then schedule a special election. He could make the vote concurrent with the regular 2018 election calendar or hold it earlier. The eventual new senator will stand for a full term in 2020.

Attorney General Luther Strange (R) has already announced that he will run whenever the special is scheduled, and against whomever may be appointed. All Republican members of the congressional delegation, with the exception of Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile), have expressed interest in obtaining the Senate appointment. Byrne is a likely candidate for governor when the state house position opens in 2018.

North Dakota: Should Sen. Heitkamp be appointed to an Administration position and resign her Senate seat, a special election will ensue. North Dakota law does not permit the governor to fill a US Senate vacancy by appointment. At-large Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) is viewed as the leading early potential candidate. Should he run and win, a special election would then follow for his congressional district.

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