Feingold Wants to Require Special Elections

Posted: Jan 25, 2009 3:00 PM
Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, of campaign finance McCain-Feingold infamy, is making another big push to reform the electoral process.

He'd like to see the Constitution amended so a special election would be required to fill a vacated Senate seat, instead of allowing senators to be selected by way of gubernatorial appointment as they are now.

Feingold's call is in direct response to controversial appointments made by Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and New York Gov. David Paterson to fill leadership positions left open by Barack Obama and Hilllary Clinton, respectively.

Although the appointments are final many questions remain about the decision making processes behind them. Gov. Blagojevich chose Roland Burris to assume Obama's position while he faced accusations of attempting to "sell" the seat. Just before Paterson tapped upstate Democratic House member Kristin Gillibrand to take Clinton's slot Caroline Kennedy mysteriously cited "personal reasons" for taking her name out of the running.

“The controversies surrounding some of the recent gubernatorial appointments to vacant Senate seats make it painfully clear that such appointments are an anachronism that must end," he said in a statement released by his office. "In 1913, the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution gave the citizens of this country the power to finally elect their senators.  They should have the same power in the case of unexpected mid term vacancies, so that the Senate is as responsive as possible to the will of the people."

Feingold plans to introduce his amendment this week and hold a hearing on the matter soon.