June 4, 2007

A Life - and a Senate Seat - Hang In the Balance - UPDATED

Hatched by Dafydd

UPDATE: See below.

Real Clear Politics reports that Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY, 96%), who had seemed in remission from his leukemia, has suddenly taken a turn for the worse:

The Hill reports Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY), who has battled leukemia in recent months, is in serious condition at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., according to a statement released by his family. Craig is "undergoing a second round of chemotherapy, but his blood cancer has resisted treatment, and he is suffering from infection."

What RCP is too polite to mention -- but which I think is important enough to warrant bringing up -- is that Wyoming currently has a Democratic governor, David Duane "Dave" Freudenthal (narrowly elected in 2002, reelected in 2006 by a 70-30 landslide). It may be crassly political to think such thoughts, but some personal matters have national political implications: In this case, were Sen. Thomas forced to resign for health reasons, Gov. Freudenthal would appoint a Democratic senator to replace him.

Now, Freudenthal seems pretty conservative, as would be any likely Democrat he appoints. However, even a conservative Democrat would vote for Sen. Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 95%) over Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY, 84%) in the organizing vote for Majority Leader. No matter how conservative a Democrat Gov. Freudenthal appoints, he will be another vote for Harry Reid -- hence another vote for withdrawal, defeat, surrender in Iraq.

It's sad that such considerations intrude upon the personal tragedy suffered by Craig Thomas and his family; but that's the way of the world. Whoever Freudenthal appointed (if that became necessary) would presumably stay until the November 2008 election; it's hard to believe that a small state like Wyoming would schedule a special election just to fill a Senate seat for the last year or so. That means the Democrat would head into the elections as the incumbent... a huge advantage. Thus, Republicans will have to capture at least three net seats (or two and the presidency) to control the Senate after 2008, not two (or one plus P).

I hope that Thomas can remain healthy enough to stay in the Senate through the election, but of course, his health takes precedence: If he feels poorly enough that he decides to resign to devote his full energies to fighting the cancer, the party shouldn't pressure him to stay. But we can still keep our fingers crossed!

UPDATE 23:45: Alas, Sen. Thomas did not make it; he passed away today at the age of 74.

According to AP:

Gov. Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat, will appoint a successor from one of three finalists chosen by the state Republican party.

I don't know if there is any limitation on who the Republican Party can choose as finalist. Can they choose three conservative Republicans? Or must there be at least one Democrat? I hate seeming like an overeager gravedigger, but I think even Sen. Thomas would have been very concerned that his death not strengthen the hand of the Democratic National Committee at such a time.

It didn't work last time, but let's keep our fingers crossed that Gov. Freudenthal's choices are limited to Republicans who actually support what Sen. Craig Thomas supported.

But even then, it's another Republican Senate seat that now needs to be defended, which shouldn't even have been up for reelection in 2008; Thomas was just overwhelmingly reelected last year.

(Democrats are of course just as much on pins and needles over the continued good health of Supreme Court Justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsberg as they were before the death, at too young an age -- only 74! -- of Craig Thomas.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 4, 2007, at the time of 3:26 PM

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The following hissed in response by: lsusportsfan

I hope it does well. But we should be allright

"If Thomas were to die or resign, Gov. Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat, would appoint a successor from one of three finalists chosen by the state Republican party.

Thomas was first elected to the Senate in 1994 after serving five years in the House."


The above hissed in response by: lsusportsfan [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 4, 2007 4:12 PM

The following hissed in response by: Athos

MSNBC and FNC are reporting that Senator Thomas has passed away.

Rest in Peace.

The above hissed in response by: Athos [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 4, 2007 7:57 PM

The following hissed in response by: Mr. Michael

LSUsportsfan has it right... the law in Wyoming states that the Governor gets three choices handed to him by the party leader of the missing officeholder. Via Michelle Malkin, I found a post at BlogPI.net that quotes the law... it won't be a Democrat.

The above hissed in response by: Mr. Michael [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 4, 2007 11:13 PM

The following hissed in response by: lsusportsfan

maybe they choose Lynn Cheney

The above hissed in response by: lsusportsfan [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 5, 2007 3:23 PM

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