December 16, 2006


Senator Showing Weakness After Surgery (KATE ZERNIKE and LAWRENCE K. ALTMAN, 12/16/06, NY Times)

“Considering his initial presentation, his progress is encouraging,” Dr. Anthony Caputy, the chairman of the hospital’s department of neurosurgery, said in the statement, adding that Mr. Johnson continues to show “signs of responsiveness” to hospital staff and his family. [...]

Mr. Johnson, who is right-handed, experienced significant weakness on the right side of his body from the stroke and will need long-term physical therapy to regain the function of his arm and leg, his office said.

Even if his condition improves rapidly, he may need such therapy to help regain the ability to walk, write, dress and get in and out of a car.

The right-sided weakness most likely indicates that the bleeding occurred in the left side of Mr. Johnson’s brain, doctors not connected with his case said.

Right-handed people like Mr. Johnson who suffer bleeding on the left side of the brain do less well on average than left-handed people, said Dr. David J. Langer, a neurosurgeon in New York City.

Mr. Johnson’s initial symptom from the stroke was apparently the speech difficulty he experienced while talking with reporters on Wednesday. Mr. Johnson is sedated, as is standard in care for his type of illness. If the speech difficulty continues after the sedation is lightened, Mr. Johnson may need speech rehabilitation, the statement indicated.

Mr. Johnson may also need further brain surgery because while the surgeons removed the blood that leaked from the malformation, they did not repair the malformation, according to the statement.

Governor Mum on Replacement Talk (MONICA DAVEY, 12/15/06, NY Times)
Gov. Mike Rounds, a Republican whose duty it would be to appoint a replacement for Mr. Johnson, a Democrat, if that becomes necessary, finds himself in his most unlikely political role yet: the single person, potentially, to decide the partisan split of the United States Senate.

Besieged with questions about whom he might select, Mr. Rounds has declined to address the topic, his aides denouncing the inquiries as premature and beyond impolite and a subject that Mr. Rounds would not have given the first thought to. [...]

Adding to the awkwardness of the spot Mr. Rounds now finds himself in, he had — long before Mr. Johnson fell ill — regularly been suggested as the most competitive potential Republican opponent to seek Mr. Johnson’s Senate seat in 2008, and perhaps the only Republican who could beat the incumbent. [...]

In 2002, when Dick Hagen, a Democratic state senator from Pine Ridge, died, Mr. Rounds selected a Republican to replace him.

Among Republicans mentioned in political circles here as possible successors to Mr. Johnson: Mr. Rounds’s lieutenant governor, Dennis Daugaard; Larry Long, the attorney general; Dusty Johnson, who won a statewide race for Public Utilities Commission; and several state legislators leaving office because of term limits.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 16, 2006 9:26 AM

Not that one would necessarily want to, but it would be interesting to see some one appoint themselves, which by most conventional operation, allows them a great say in their successor as well.

Regardless, he's right, it's premature and impolite.

Posted by: Bruno at December 16, 2006 10:26 AM


One of the reasons why the "Minnesota Massacre" of 1978 happened is because the DFL Governor at the time of Hubert Humphrey's death resigned, and his replacement appointed the former governor. This also happened in Wyoming around 1960-61 with the death of a sitting Senator.

The sort of political caper you describe never works. And frankly, as a former South Dakotan, I've never believed Mike Rounds would be the type to want to go to DC.

Posted by: Brad S at December 16, 2006 1:02 PM