The Kentucky gubernatorial election could determine control of the U.S. Senate

 November 1, 2023

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) and Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) might decide Senate control in November. Beshear claims a state statute requiring him to select a Republican if Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) resigns is unconstitutional.

On November 7, Kentucky voters will choose Beshear or Cameron as governor. The Democrat incumbent leads his Republican challenger, but Cameron is close. Beshear portrays himself as a moderate, but Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is anything but moderate, therefore which party controls the Senate could be in question, as Breitbart News reported.

Due to Senate Minority Leader McConnell's health issues and two on-camera freezes over the past year, succession discussions are needed if the 81-year-old senator cannot finish his term. His term ends in 2026.

Legality of the Issue

When a Senate seat becomes empty, the governor must call a special election under the Seventeenth Amendment.

The amendment also states, “That the legislature of any State may empower the [governor] to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.”

The Constitution requires a special election to fill a Senate term and allows the legislature to instruct the governor to make interim appointments. Constitutionally, the governor cannot fill Senate vacancies; the legislative must.

The governor of Kentucky must choose from the three members of the former senator's party if a U.S. Senate seat becomes vacant, regardless of the governor's party affiliation, according to a March 2021 law.

Bott McConnell and Paul are Republican senators from Kentucky. If McConnell cannot finish his term, Beshear must choose from three Republicans named by the Kentucky GOP, per Kentucky law.

But Beshear first vetoed SB 228 because it violated Article 152 of the Kentucky Constitution, which allows him full authority to name anyone to the Senate, including a fellow Democrat.

The Republican-controlled Kentucky legislature overrode his veto and passed SB 228.

Debate About the Law

Many argue that constitutional law should not be debated. Article VI of the U.S. Constitution states that it supersedes state constitutions. The Federal Constitution defines the qualifications, elections, removals, and attributes of the U.S. senatorial post.

So if the U.S. Constitution allows the Kentucky legislature to decide whether to empower the governor to fill a Senate vacancy and only if the appointee is of the former senator's party, it doesn't matter if the Kentucky Constitution seeks to give the governor more power. That would be the issue in a lengthy lawsuit.

Thus, Beshear can try and the case could take over a year to reach the U.S. Supreme Court. With a 51-49 Senate and many elderly senators, control might be in doubt.

Thus, the Beshear-Cameron election is more important than many voters realize. They may decide if President Joe Biden can continue to rely on Schumer to pursue a Democrat agenda and frustrate House Republican efforts to pass conservative legislation and national authority may depend on Kentucky's governor.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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