A new article on Stateline proves that Blagojevich’s Senatorial dealings are far from the first drama to surround a vacant U.S. Senate seat. Granted, I doubt any of these governors were caught on tape dropping F bombs of glee over the opportunity to personally benefit over the appointments, but interesting nonetheless:
In Alaska in 2002, newly elected Gov. Frank Murkowski (R) appointed his daughter, Lisa, to the Senate seat he himself had vacated. The move caused such an uproar that both the Legislature and later voters — through a ballot measure approved in 2004 — took away the governor’s appointment power. Alaska now holds elections to choose substitute senators, and Murkowski later was voted out of office in a Republican primary, losing to current Gov. Sarah Palin.
In Massachusetts in 2004, Democratic lawmakers — worried then-Gov. Mitt Romney would appoint a fellow Republican to Democratic Sen. John Kerry’s seat if Kerry won the presidential election — stripped Romney of his power to do so. Voting on the proposal — which replaced the appointment process with a special election — broke sharply along partisan lines.
Also noteworthy is that current Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal — a Democrat — was the last governor to fill a vacant Senate seat with someone from the opposing party. This happened last year when Republican Senator Craig Thomas passed away, and Wyoming’s law dictated that the seat be filled by someone from the same party as the person who vacated it. Freudenthal chose Republican John Barasso.