West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd died Monday at 92. He was an outspoken
proponent of legislative power and served in the Senate for 51 years,
longer than anyone else in American history. (For more on his legacy,
check out Adam Clymer's terrific obituary
in the New
York Times). His death comes as Democrats seek to pass financial
regulatory reform and are short on votes. His successor will be chosen
by West Virginia's Democratic Governor Joe Manchin, but the timing of that
appointment is in question. Here's the political fallout of Byrd's
- Puts Wall Street Reform In Peril, writes John Bresnahan at Politico: "Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, one of four Republicans who voted for
the original bill, has said he might vote against the [conference]
version because it adds a $19 billion bank tax. Should Brown vote no and
with the loss of Senator Byrd, it would leave the bill one vote shy of
the 60 needed to close debate and move to final passage."
Would Have to Pick Up Votes from One of These Republicans, writes Meena
Thiruvengadam and Damian Paletta at The WSJ: "Four Republicans,
Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Olympia Snowe of Maine, Susan Collins of
Maine, and Charles Grassley of Iowa, voted for the bill in May, and
Democrats would need the four to back it, in order to get exactly 60
- A Democratic Appointee Could Stay Until 2012, writes
Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic:
"Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin will appoint Byrd's successor. Given the
time frame -- outside two and a half years before Byrd's term expired --
a special election will be held in November. Democratic sources say
they think that Nick Casey, the state Democratic party chair, had been
quietly tapped (and approved) to be his fill-in/successor should a
vacancy occur. Sen. Harry Reid and others have been consulted on this
eventuality. The only ambiguity here is when Manchin officially declares
a 'vacancy' in the seat; if he does so after July 3 somehow, then his
hand-chosen replacement could serve through 2012. If not, the successor
serves a few months, and Republicans get the chance to pick another
Senate race in 2010."
- Democrats Have Delayed Vacancy
Announcements Before, notes Jim Geraghty at National Review: "In
New York, David Paterson waited
months before declaring Eric Massa’s House seat vacant. The idea of
Manchin waiting a week to recognize the vacancy is not unthinkable."
It's in Governor Manchin's Interest to Announce the Vacancy Now, writes
Steve Kornacki at Salon:
seat is probably Manchin's only way of retaining his political
viability and furthering those national aspirations. The assumption,
then, is that Manchin would simply appoint a placeholder to the seat,
someone to keep it warm until he can run for it himself.
could potentially get to decide whether he wants to run this fall, or
if he'd rather wait until 2012. Even though this fall figures to be
rough for Democrats, it's probably a better time for Manchin to run.
He's plenty popular now and, thanks to his cultural conservatism and
staunch defense of the state's coal industry, he's separated himself
enough from Barack Obama and the national Democratic label that he'd
probably be fine. And his presence in a special election this fall would
probably scare off the strongest potential Republican, Rep. Shelley
Moore Capito. But if Manchin has to wait two years to run, circumstances
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