Monday, January 15, 2007

Another "Power Grab"

Well, state Democrats are at it again. State Representative Tim O'Brien (D-24) has introduced a bill to strip the governor of her executive powers to appoint Connecticut's Senator in Congress in the event of a vacancy. Following proposals last week to strip Governor Rell of her agenda setting authority on the bonding commission is the second attempt to by the Democrat controlled legislature to take away the governor's authority as the state's chief executive.

Senate Republican Leader Louis C. DeLuca had this to say:

"This is another power grab by the Democrats that threatens to weaken Connecticut's system of checks and balances." said Senator DeLuca. "This trend of partisan and careless legislative proposals is evidence of the arrogance of this majority which seeks to control not only the branch of government to which they've been elected, but the executive and judicial branches as well.

"Connecticut Democrats campaigned against this kind of heavy handedness in the fall. Now just two weeks into this new legislative session they are governing quite differently."

I happen to agree. The Republicans in Congress attempted actions in the Senate just a few short years ago and I was just as disgusted with them. Governing is not a matter on convenience but is about fairness and compromise. They call it balance of power for a reason. It appears that many Democrats no longer think this balance matters. I guess that's what a veto-proof majority will do to them.

This post is also up on our new website,


Press Release, Connecticut Senate Republicans, January 12, 2007

Proposed Bill No. 5034


Anonymous said...

Well you know D_R, they're preparing for Dodd's seat to be vacant when he wins the nomination. *snicker* I couldn't keep a straight face.

cgg said...

I think special elections make more sense, regardless of which party is in power. Why give the someone the benefit of incumbency who hasn't actually been voted in?

At the same time such a major change is nothing to play around with, and both parties should consider the long term implications.

Anonymous said...

Is there any state where senatorial vacancies are filled by a general election? If I'm not mistaken an appointment only lasts until the next congressional election which is less than two years. Is O'Brien suggesting to fill out the entire term, or, as it is now with an appointment, until the next two year cycle?

Anonymous said...

This has less to do with Dodd's seat as much as it has to do with the belief that Lieberman will still join Bush's cabinet.

Anonymous said...

Special elections are the right thing to do. Let the people have a voice not the Governor

Matt said...

Who calls an election a "power grab"? Seriously, what kind of authoritarian worldview do you have to carry around to insist that elections themselves are invalid compared to executive power?

DR, another Bush Republican. Pity.

disgruntled_republican said...

Far from a Bush Republican Matt - and apparently not ass pig headed as you either. Remember when pointing fingers there is one pointing back at you. This is an opinion forum. Try offering an opinion in oposition of mine.

The law was written that way for a reason and there is no compelling reason to change it. If there is a vacancy in the Senate it makes sense to fill it immedietly. Senators represent the entire state and they handle a lot more of the state's business than a Congressman. There are only 2 and it takes months to plan and plenty money to stage an election that can certainly wait until the next congressional election. I'm just saying the rules are there. If there is nothing wrong with the rules, why change them? So it would potentially be a Republican Senator for a year or so...big deal. Think they would be making this move if JDS won the election? I don't.

GMR said...

I can see where the Democrats are coming from here: they've got the veto proof majority, and both Senators are Democrats while the Governor claims to be a Republican (although her last campaign was pretty much devoid of any issues). Right now, if Lieberman or Dodd resigned or died, then control of the Senate would change. So I see why the Democrats are putting protections in place.

Senate seats really need to be filled right away, as each Senate seat is much more important than a Congressional seat. Filibusters, the fact that each state has 2, etc. Elections right away really aren't practical: primaries need to be run, then general elections. Also, these will be significantly more expensive than congressional seats because they cover the entire state.

Personally, I like Wyoming's solution the best. If a Senator dies in Wyoming, then the head of the state party of that Senator gets to submit 3 names to the governor, and the governor has to pick one of those names. This prevents deaths from changing the balance of power.

Frankly, I think that gaining power of the Senate through a death or resignation is not a great way to gain power. Same with party switching: it just reeks of silly partisan games. In the end, did Jeffords' switch help the Republicans or Democrats more?

Also, the last change of party for a Senate seat through an appointment that I can remember is when the Senator from Georgia, a Republican, died. He got replaced with a Democrat. That Democrat was named Zell Miller... I bet if you asked most Democrats now if they wish the Democrat governor had appointed a Republican, most Democrats would say absolutely!

(Carnahan and Wellstone also both died, but Carnahan before getting elected, and Wellstone right before the election, so he was replaced with Walter Mondale).

Anonymous said...

No need to change. Leiberman will never join the Bush Administration, Dodd will never will the election. (By the way, winning the nomination has nothing to do with it.) If Leiberman was really a Republican (or a non-Democrat) as the donkeys on this blog wold have you believe, he would have already joined the Administration. Leiberman represents ALL CT residents, a fact the donkeys just can't accept.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I like Leiberman as Senator. I think he is thoughful and fair, two traits that are sorely lacking among most Democrats. Still, I'd live to see him join the Administration -- if only to watch the donkeys pull their hair out when Gov. Rell appionts former U.S Rep. Nancy Johnson as Senator. This blog would turn Blood Red with rage!

ct_husky said...

GMR, I think you hit it right on the head. Special elections, at face value, just don't seem like a viable solution. However, the views of the electorate should be acknowledged when appointing a new Senator. A setup similar to Wyoming's would then be ideal. It would give the Governor a certain amount of wiggle room, while still respecting the choice of the voters. It's somewhat disheartening that the CT Dems didn't seek that type of "compromise" solution from the outset.

On the flip side, there is a valid argument against that when you consider the fact that a Governor, unlike a party chair, is elected by the entire electorate. While I would have no problem giving the head of the respective parties the ability to give the Governor choices, it would certainly make for an interesting debate on the authority of the executive.

Anonymous said...

"If a Senator dies in Wyoming, then the head of the state party of that Senator gets to submit 3 names to the governor...."

Are you seriously advocating a position that allows the chairman of a political party to pick a U.S. Senator??? Really???

The Governor is elected by the people of the State; the party chairman is not. I believe that Wyoming's law is the worst of all options. Just imagine, the state party chairman could submit their own name and the name of 2 convicted felons (maybe Joe Ganim and Ernie Newton); then the party chairman gets to be Senator. Absurd scenario, perhaps, but possible because the party chairman is accountable to no one.

I would like the leftists on this board to answer this question honestly: would this issue ever come up if either a Democrat were Governor or there were no veto-proof majority? I know the true answer and so do you!

Anonymous said...

The history behind House vacancies being filled by special election, while Senate vacancies are being filled by gubernatorial appointment, has to do with an earlier moment in history in which senators were seen as representatives of the state, rather than of the people. That changed, but this artifact of that earlier time did not.

If you believe that the power of replacement should reside with the people, then the election makes sense. There is no guarantee that in the future, there will not be a reversal (party-wise) of the current situation.

I am not in favor of the "give me three names" approach. I think there's tremendous room for croneyism and for making a deal in order to get the "right" names on that list.

While the governor can guarantee that the replacement candidate would be an R today, think of the future. If there were a Dem governor, the only hope for an R replacement for an R senator would be through a special election.

I'm not sure why the GOP posters are so upset. Their de facto R candidate just won -- though he didn't have an R after his name. If he can do it once, why would a special election be a problem?

Anonymous said...

As a republican there is no way I would want Lieberman ever became part of the Bush administration in any capacity. Bush has enough of his own problems already.

But then there is the theoretical question of just who Rell may appoint to replace Lieberman in the remote possibility of that happening..

What possibly logic would Rell have to appoint Nancy Johnson who lost by 12,000 votes to of all people Chris Murphy to that open seat? Johnson is part of our past and needs to stay there. If Rell is ever lucky enough to have the chance to appoint someone, then please appoint someone who can win re-election. Assuming there is any Republican anywhere in this state who could actually win an election for the senate.

Anonymous said...

DR, The system we have now is broken, and I'm a little confused how you don't see it. I would rather go 4 months without representation, than 2 years with un-democratic representation.

Furthermore, to say that Rep. O'Brien is somehow representative of the Entire Democratic Leadership in the General Assembly seems harsh. If you notice there are no co-introducers or co-sponsers to the bill. Let's reserve judgement as to whether this is a Democratic Party ploy until more than one person has signed onto it.

Fuzzy Turtle said...

Gov. Rell appionts former U.S Rep. Nancy Johnson as Senator.

it won't happen.. she's already melted away into a puddle of water.

TrueBlueCT said...

Congressional Research Report on this topic, available here.

Currently nine states have opted not to have Senate vacancies filled by gubernatorial appointment:

Oregon, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Oklahoma require special elections.

Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Utah and Wyoming all require "same party" replacements.

If anyone wants to make the argument that, in the case of a Connecticut Senate vacancy, Governor Rell should be able to single-handedly change the balance of power in the United States Senate..... well, please go ahead. I'm dying to hear the perverted logic.

TrueBlueCT said...

P.S., Disgruntled, I forgot to give you and Senator DeLuca one big,


TrueBlueCT said...

New Britain State Rep. Tim O'Brien introduced this needed legislation!

Honestly, the current law is archaic. It dates back to a time when Senators were chosen by State Legislatures and not via popular vote.

ctkeith said...

Who cares what Little Louie DeLuca or Disgruntled or any other Republican want?

The People of this State Elected a Veto Proof Majority for a reason. It's now time to make the position of Gov. in Ct little more than a cerimonial position.

Thats all Rells intelect can handle anyway

Anonymous said...

This attempt to change the law is nothing mor ethan an obvious attempt to power grab.........CT residents wont stand for it if they leanr about it...

TrueBlueCT said...

Yeah Anon9:17,

Connecticut hasn't elected a Republican Senator in 24 years. But I'm sure they'd be happy with Governor Rell appointing one. Particularly with the balance of power of the US Senate currently at stake.

That, versus letting the people decide in a special election?!!!

Your math stinks.

Anonymous said...

I think this goes to show how precarious the Democrat control of the Senate is. If 1 seat can change the power balance, why isn't there more talk of working together. Unless it's a veto proof majority (which I don't think exists in reality), neither side has true control.

That said, I don't have a problem with them holding a special election in the event of a vacancy. Government should be "Of the people, by the people".

Tim White said...

Are there 24 senators who would support this via veto override?

Hypothetically, if a senator believes he/she will someday be governor, will he/she support this measure?

disgruntled_republican said...

Anon638 -

I voted for Schlesinger so don't feed me the defacto crap.

TrueBlue and ct keith-

Willing to bet you wouldn;t be humming the same tune if it was the exact opposite...

Anonymous said...

And on the subject of the Senate - can't wait to see the first filabuster in the US Senate. Dingy Harry must have forgeten about that since he never got to use one...*snicker*

Ralphie said...

This is an obvious power grab, but so what? It's hardly anything unusual or unprecedented. Similar statutes exist on the books in a number of other states.

DR, I admire your principled opposition to ending the filibuster --- however ending the filibuster would have completely changed the character of the Senate. Restricting Rell's power in a rare and hypothetical situation is a horse of a different color. I find it odd sometimes how people seem shocked, shocked that there's politics in politics.

TrueBlueCT said...


Don't impugn me. I still believe in process, the will of the people, democracy, economic justice, and all that naive crap that makes me a revolting liberal.

So yeah, I'm for same party replacement laws across the board. Or special elections. Either is more equitable than gubernatorial selection.

Matt said...

DR, I fail to see any way in which advocating for a special election hands more power to the Democrats in the legislature, and you make a series of arguments that in no way make that case. Your only argument is a pro-executive-authority argument.

I actually prefer what GMR suggested (same party replacement), because I am highly partisan. However a direct special election seems the most fair from a not-partisan perspective.

And on a side note, why are the so-called conservatives on this board laying on the "I have special knowledge of what X thinks / would do in a special situation" so thick? Hot tip: no, you don't. It bears mentioning that the public financing law will be likely to lure more Republican challengers to the next legislative race, and probably whittling down the Dem supermajority -- but is supported by a goodly number of the Democrats kicking around here. Sometimes, when your party gets enough seats to run the show, you make laws not just to perpetuate your party's power, but because it is actually the *right thing to do.*

The fact that this concept is foreign to you makes me a little sad, actually -- for rhetorical purposes, it's rather nice to say that "the Connecticut GOP is a better breed of Republican than the D.C. variety," but it seems that the Bush-Rove mindset had become pervasive among Republicans even here.

Anonymous said...

Senator DeLuca said:

"This trend of partisan and careless legislative proposals is evidence of the arrogance of this majority which seeks to control not only the branch of government to which they've been elected, but the executive and judicial branches as well."

The original US constitution had senators elected by the legislature. When vacancies occurred, they might last as long as 2 or even 4 years. To try to deal with the vacancy problem, governors were given the right to fill the vacancies. The direct election of senators has been in effect since 1913. It's almost 100 years later, and we still have this artifact from the days of legislature's electing senators hanging around in the law. I fail to see that giving the power of selecting senators' replacements to the people, nearly 100 years after giving election of senators to the people, is Exhibit A in DeLuca's imagined "trend of partisan and careless legislative proposals".

Anonymous said...

Power grab? What are you guys smoking. Why should a governor get to appoint anyone to an elected Senate seat? There should be a special election held immediately just like when a State Rep or State Senator goes to jail or resigns or dies. Appoint NO Elect YES, That's democracy.

Anonymous said...

Anon 742 -

Exhibit A was the bonding commission. I beleive DeLuca was pointing to this as exhibit b and thus the formation of a "trend".

Anonymous said...

It's a "power grab" for the people of CT, agreed and long overdue. But it ain't gonna happen.

Anonymous said...

When was the last time DeLuca said anything positive about a proposal by a Democrat? His comments are not unexpected just as the GOP minority in the Senate is not by accident but by the vote of the people.

Anonymous said...

trueblue said: "That, versus letting the people decide in a special election?!!!"

Are you just a blind partisan or are you not that bright? Quite frankly, I am not sure any more.

Let's look at the current law. It allows the Governor to appoint a Senator immediately to fill a vacancy, thus protecting the State of Connecticut. Under your proposal, the State would be without a Senator for 90 days or more. Depending on when the vacancy occurs, that could deprive our state of a vote on the budget or perhaps a Supreme Court justice. Regardless, we lose 50% of our voice on important issues. I guess that makes for good public policy. In addition, the Governor's pick can only serve until the vacancy is filled in an election in an even year, not the remainder of the term. Thus, the Governor's pick can serve for no more than 2 years. This scenario both fills a void immediately and allows for a proper "special" election. Under your scenario, the special election may occur in April. So then we can elect a Senator with, what, say 15% of the people voting; rather than in November when a majority of the people vote. So you say "let the people decide"; yet under your scenario, only very few people will decide, whereas under the current law the majority of the people get to decide.

If any changes are to be made to this law then just require the Governor to pick a person who is registered with the same party as the person elected by the people and further require that he or she be registered with that party for at least 1 year to protect against someone switching.

Stop being such a partisan hater trueblue and just debate the idea on the merits.

Anonymous said...

matt said: "Sometimes, when your party gets enough seats to run the show, you make laws not just to perpetuate your party's power, but because it is actually the *right thing to do.*"

LMAO. Good one matt! Didn't know you had such a great sense of humor.