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October 04, 2002

GOP Candidate Ignores "Clear" Meaning of Law

Here's an odd case in comparison to the Torricelli withdrawal; in Texas, a GOP candidate for state legislature was just confirmed for a federal judgeship by the US Senate. Under Texas law, "if an officer accepts another office and the two offices may not lawfully be held simultaneously, a vacancy in the first office occurs on the date the person qualifies for the other office." So it would seem that he would have to drop out of the race since he no longer is qualified for the state legislature. Which of course he refuses to do.

Gamesmanship all around. As many bloggers have pointed out, Katherine Harris down in Florida violated the "letter of the law" in running for Congress, as did Mitt Romney in Massachusetts in violating residency laws. But both states followed the spirit of maximum competition in keeping them in the race.

The oddest thing about the whole objection to Lautenberg is that if he ends up being the candidate the voters of New Jersey prefer over Forrester, even if they would prefer Forrester over Torricelli, doesn't that mean that the voters get the best candidate? Pundits have raised the fear of new candidates being parachuted into races at the last moment, but if they can win, why not say, More power to them. It's a bit chaotic and personal ego and the costs of reprinting ballots will prevent most candidates and parties from copying the Torricelli to Lautenberg move too often, but how does the public lose by having better candidates on election day?

Posted by Nathan at October 4, 2002 11:50 AM

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And don't forget the 1990 Minnesota Governor's race, where Arne Carlson was substituted as the Republican candidate with about a week to go when the nominee go caught up in a sex scandal. Carlson went on to win. While there apparently was no Minnesota statute on point, if the Republicans were worried about setting a bad precedent regarding late switches, they sure didn't show it in that case.

Posted by: Paleo at October 4, 2002 07:27 PM

Here's another: In Pennsylvania, the president pro tem of the state senate became Lt. Gov. when Gov. Ridge went to Washington and Lt. Gov. Schweiker inherited the job. Yet he refuses to quite the state senate. The state constitution apparently explicitly forbids someone from holding simultaneous office in the legislative and executive, but PA courts have, astonishingly, held that a seat in the senate doesn't count as an office.

Let me say--I don't think it's smart to make the president pro tem quit the Senate whenever there's a vacancy at Lt. Gov. But if rules are rules, the law on this seems pretty clear.

Posted by: Matt Weiner at October 6, 2002 09:30 AM

What does GOP mean?

Posted by: fs at November 7, 2002 01:37 PM

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