Confused about the U.S. Senate "special election" a judge just
ordered Illinois to hold this November? Here are the pared down basics:
Way back in February 2009, former Ald. Marty Oberman and labor
lawyer Tom Geoghegan filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking a special
election for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama. (We ran
through the argument here.) The three-judge panel on the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals sided with Oberman and crew in June and then upheld that ruling in July, claiming that a special election was necessary as required by the 17th amendment.
Now, the court is trying to develop a feasible plan to hold the election. It will formally announce its ruling on Thursday, but some details are trickling out. Illinoisans will likely vote for U.S. senator twice
on November 3. The first "race" will fill the remaining few weeks of
Roland Burris' controversial term while the second will be for the full six-year term for which Alexi Giannoulias and Mark Kirk are running.
Illinois' state central committees will likely get to pick who’s on the ballot for the "special" election. (That's the same body that chose Scott Lee Cohen's replacement.) Odds are, they will keep their own nominees on the ballot. And while the election may be meaningless and
politically damaging to Democrats in the short-term, it does provide
precedent to rid Illinois of its anti-democratic replacement process if
a future vacancy arises.