For days, news in Kentucky has been dominated by reports that the Republican-dominated state legislature is poised to change the means for filling a vacancy in the U.S. Senate.
This has led fueled speculation from the State Capitol in Frankfort to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., about the person who badly wants this legislation enacted and whom it most affects: Mitch McConnell, Senate Republican leader and handily re-elected last fall to a 7th term.
If enacted, the proposed legislation will remove Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s power to appoint whomever he chooses to a vacant Senate seat.
Instead, he and future governors would be required to choose the new lawmaker from a list of three from the executive committee of the party of the outgoing senator.
At 79, amid on-and-off speculation about McConnell’s health, the man called “Mr. Leader” by Republican colleagues and staffers and simply “The Senator” by Bluegrass State Republicans shows no signs of stepping down. Just this weekend, McConnell sent clear signals to Democrats he would thwart any attempt by them to scuttle the filibuster in the Senate.
But the speculation continues. McConnell supports the proposed change in rules for filling a Senate vacancy (officially Senate Bill 228). Morever, state Republicans have gone as far as to offer a list of three Republicans from which McConnell’s successor will be chosen.
Topping the list is State Attorney General Daniel Cameron, the first Black person to hold statewide office in Kentucky and a onetime counsel to McConnell in his Senate office.
The other two names on the list are United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft, whose husband is a major McConnell contributor, and Secretary of State Michael Adams, who also worked for McConnell in past years.
Gov. Beshear's opposition to 228 is expected to make little difference. Republicans have “veto proof” margins (two-thirds of the seats) in both the state senate and state house and can thus override any veto.
Of 37 states in which the governor appoints a U.S. Senator in the event of a vacancy, six have laws requiring the new senator be from the same party as the outgoing lawmaker. Only Hawaii requires its governor to choose from a list prepared by the state executive committee of the outgoing senator.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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