December 14, 2006


Democratic majority could be at risk after South Dakota senator becomes ill (Charles Babington and Jonathan Weisman, 12/14/06, The Washington Post)

Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., underwent surgery early today after falling ill at the Capitol, introducing a note of uncertainty over control of the Senate just weeks before Democrats are to take over with a one-vote margin.

Johnson, 59, was taken to George Washington University Hospital shortly after noon Wednesday, where he underwent "a comprehensive evaluation by the stroke team," his office said. Aides later said he had not suffered a stroke or heart attack, but they offered no further comment or details of the surgery.

The two-term senator's illness — which sent Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada rushing to the hospital to check on Johnson — underscored the fragility of Democrats' hold on the next Senate, which they won by the narrowest of margins in the Nov. 7 election. If Johnson is unable to complete his term, South Dakota's Republican governor, Michael Rounds, would name a replacement.

We sincerely wish the Senator well and hope he recovers fully and finishes his term. One has to admit though, it would be more than a little amusing to watch the Democrats go into conniptions over losing the Senate again so quickly.

MORE (via The Other Brother):
Capitol Hooky Do members of Congress have to show up for work? (Torie Bosch, 12/13/06, Slate)

In the past, some ill members of Congress have missed even more of the action. In 1969, two years into his fourth term, South Dakota Sen. Karl E. Mundt, a Republican, suffered a stroke and was unable to continue voting. He offered to resign, but only on the condition that South Dakota's governor appoint Mundt's wife to fill the vacancy. The governor refused, and Mundt retained the Senate seat, even while missing three full years of votes. He even remained on three committees until 1972, when the Senate Republican Conference stripped him of these assignments.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 14, 2006 11:34 AM

Someone in another forum was saying that Republicans would have to be lower than the belly of a snake to replace a dead Democrat with a live Republican, but isn't that pretty much par for the course in politcs? Haven't the Democrats played that same game before?

Posted by: Bryan at December 14, 2006 11:55 AM

Not to worry, Lieberman, the Resolute, will return to the fold for a choice committee chairmanship (replacing Leahy or Rockefeller would be my choice). Then waiting in the wings are Sanders and Jeffords, going deep to the bench are the RINO's.

Posted by: erp at December 14, 2006 12:15 PM

I too hope for a safe recovery for Sen Johnson.

As for the politics, Reid would have Johnson lobotomized and declared his ward if before he lets a Republican choose a senator.

Posted by: Bruno at December 14, 2006 12:44 PM

Of course the Republican governor would appoint a Republican--politics ain't beanbag.

Posted by: oj at December 14, 2006 12:58 PM

erp: Lieberman & Sanders already count for the Dems 51.

He ain't gonna step down. No chance. If it comes down to it, they'll just keep him on the respirator for as long as it takes. Reminds me of the Patsy Mink fiasco back in '02...

Posted by: b at December 14, 2006 1:33 PM

What's funny er...well of course not funny ah hum..this could end up as another Terri Schivo case with both parties switching sides.

Posted by: h-man at December 14, 2006 1:48 PM

"...politics ain't beanbag."

No, it's Jarts! There's your next book right there, buddy. No charge.

Posted by: Bryan at December 14, 2006 2:20 PM

Politics is Blow Tag.

Posted by: oj at December 14, 2006 2:35 PM

Did anyone notice Mr. Mundt was gone?

Posted by: AC at December 14, 2006 3:42 PM

Independents are counted toward the majority? How's that? I understand they can vote with the Dems but why are they counted as Dems? Oh well, there are still any number of RINO's who'd be ready to jump to their aid.

Posted by: erp at December 14, 2006 4:19 PM

They've said they'd caucus with the Dems. No one's ever wanted to be bought more than Joe though.

Posted by: oj at December 14, 2006 5:24 PM

I know I'm being dense here, but isn't the idea that one party or the other has the most members. If independents choose to caucus with the Dems, why are they added to the Dems total. What if a Republican decided to caucus with the Denms?

Posted by: erp at December 14, 2006 8:27 PM