Not surprisingly, many reports this morning use the Lott resignation to reinforce the CW that the Republican chances of winning back either the House or Senate is getting more remote by the day. Just when the Congressional Republican leadership thinks their retirement roll call has come to an end, another sneaks up on them.
Even before Sen. Trent Lott (R) officially announced his resignation yesterday, speculation abounded over when a special election would take place to replace him. Would it be 90 days, as it seemed to indicate in Mississippi law, or would it be November 2008? Mississippi law reads that the governor sets a special election to replace a resigning member of Congress within 90 days, unless it takes place in the year of a statewide general or congressional election, according to an official in the Mississippi Secretary of State's office. Gov. Haley Barbour (R) interpreted that this way: Since this is a statewide election year (with the gubernatorial election), and Election Day has passed, the election to replace Lott would take place on Election Day 2008 (Nov. 4).
But the Mississippi Democratic Party appears to be girding for a fight over the decision. It disputes Barbour's interpretation. If Lott "does resign this calendar year we expect the governor to uphold the law and call a special election within 100 days," writes Wayne Dowdy Mississippi Democratic Party chairman, in a statement, factoring in the 10 days allotted between an announcement of resignation and 90 days for setting a date for a special election.
The Hill has more on this brewing controversy.
And finally, Dennis Hastert officially submitted his resignation yesterday, allowing Illinois Gov. Blagojevich (D) just enough time to call a special primary election on Feb. 5, the same day as the Illinois primary. Republicans running for the seat include Sen. Chris Lauzen, Jim Oberweis, Kevin Burns, and Michael Dilger. Democrats running for the seat include John Laesch, Bill Foster, Jotham Stein, and Joe Serra.