Patterico's Pontifications


R.I.P. Sen. Craig Thomas

Filed under: General,Politics — Patterico @ 7:46 pm

The AP reports:

Wyoming Sen. Craig Thomas, a three-term conservative Republican who stayed clear of the Washington limelight and political catfights, died Monday. He was 74.


P.S. If you’re tempted to engage in talk of political calculation, don’t bother. It’s a natural enough question; the only reason his death is national news is because he was a U.S. Senator. But Blog P.I. credibly argues that the seat won’t be changing hands.

6 Responses to “R.I.P. Sen. Craig Thomas”

  1. I live in the great state of Wyoming. This wonderful man will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

    wytammic (5cc4e3)

  2. I lived in Casper for a couple of months. Great place (home of our VP, GODS I loved it there).

    If that seat changes hands, I’m voting for Hell’s Hockey Team to win the Cup next year…

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  3. First of all, R.I.P. Senator Thomas. Thank you for your service, and best wishes to your friends and family.

    Now, my reason for posting.

    I’m flummoxed that any state law would provide that a replacement Senator would be selected by procedure where a non-elected group of central committee party hacks would get to nominate three possible replacements, and the elected Governor would be forced to select one of them.

    I’m not willing to delve into Wyoming statutes but there has to be something else going on here, some exit from this situation where non elected partisans are the only ones who get to nominate the replacement.

    It used to be in the original Constitution that Senators were elected by state legislatures, which isn’t direct democracy but at least you could hold the electors responsible if you didn’t like their choice. Since this clearly wasn’t democratic enough, the Constitution was later amended to make the election direct, which was a good thing.

    In most states nowadays, the Governor names any replacement Senator, which isn’t direct democracy but again at least the Governor is under political pressure to name someone acceptable to the public. I think some states bring the state legislature into the process in terms of nomination or confirmation, which is even more democratic.

    If Blog P.I. states the only applicable statute, Wyoming’s system is crazy and undemocratic. Unelected party hacks of the late Senator’s party name three people, and the Governor must select one of them, no matter how unsuited or unpopular they may be? What if the late Senator was a popular and rational exception to a nutty party? What if the Senator was a long serving, rational politician of a national mainstream party that happens to have been recently hijacked, through inter party infighting and not by vote, by a local fringe extremist wing of that party?

    I’m not casting aspersions on the current Wyoming Republicans, who I trust will come up with three credible nominations.

    I’m just saying it’s eye popping that, if this is the only applicable statute, a Governor might be forced to select from a list of three nominated by a private party council who themselves are never subjected to an official state election and thus are completely unaccountable to the public.

    aplomb (7e0317)

  4. My suggestion: Governor Freudenthal should appoint former Wyoming congressman Richard Cheney to the post, thus allowing President Bush to appoint former Senator Fred Thompson to become Vice President, giving our best candidate a top shot at the 2008 Republican presidential nomination!

    Dana (3e4784)

  5. […] a Democrat, he will wind up appointing a Republican to fill the late Senator Thomas’ seat. (Hat tip to Patterico.) Thus, this really isn’t a political moment; there won’t be any significant change in […]

    Common Sense Political Thought » Archives » RIP, Senator Craig Thomas (819604)

  6. aplomb,
    With all due respect, Wyoming’s system is neither crazy nor undemocratic. Gov. Freudenthal will select a temporary Republican replacement from a list provided by the Republican Party. Then, in the 2008 elections, Wyoming voters will choose a new successor to finish out the rest of Senator Thomas’ term (until 2012). This way, Wyoming does not go long without Senatorial representation, the temporary replacement is as close to the original as possible (being from Sen. Thomas’ party), and voters still get to choose the eventual successor.
    I can see how Democrats would not be huge fans of this law right now, but it really is the fairest way to approach the issue for both parties.

    tieki rae (5cc4e3)

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