St. Petersburg based House Democrat Rick Kriseman has just announced he is filing legislation for the 2010 session that would require a special election in the event of a vacancy in the U.S. Senate, as just happened in late August after Mel Martinez stunningly announced he did not want to return to Washington following the summer recess.
Governor Crist had the sole power based on state law to chose his successor, and ultimately disappointed many in the state GOP when he chose his former aide, George LeMieux to fill the seat until January of 2011.
In his press release issued today (and on his website), Representative Kriseman writes that, "the recent past has proven that the appointment process is flawed, allowing for too much cronyism. The people should decide, not one person."
The selection of replacing U.S. Senators has become a big issue in the past year, after Illinois' Rod Blagojevich got into a bit of trouble on some federal wiretaps discussing who might be the person to replace Barack Obama in the Senate.
Then you had the situation in Massachusetts, where the Democratic led Legislature changed a law 5 years ago to deny their then GOP Governor, Mitt Romney, from being able to select a replacement, if John Kerry were to move on to the position he was aspiring to. Then in the wake of the late Ted Kennedy's death (actually before that), many of those same Legislators joined Kennedy in calling for law to be changed, concerned about one less Democrat able to vote for health care reform. That, and the fact that with a Democratic Governor (Deval Patrick), there was no suspense about which political party he would choose from.