The U.S. Constitution gives states the ability to choose how to fill vacancies in the U.S. Senate. All states do so through an election, but they vary in two ways: whether the vacancy is filled at a regularly-scheduled election, or at a special election; and whether the governor can make an appointment to fill the vacancy during the period before the election occurs.
MISSISSIPPI is one of the states that allows the governor to make an appointment to fill the seat.
Here is the way Mississippi has specifically elected to handle this situation. A special election is to be held within 100 days of when the governor receives official notice of vacancy, unless the vacancy occurs in the year of a general state or congressional election, in which case the vacancy is filled in that election.
If Mississippians do not approve of the governor appointing a replacement, as in the current situation with Senator Cochran’s seat, why are those people just now voicing this outrage? This is the law, and it isn’t new. (It should also be noted that there is nothing in the law that specifies what criteria a governor should use for making his/her decision). Chris McDaniel’s public comments, like the ones regarding the appointment of Cindy Hyde-Smith, are just another example of why I have no respect for him. It is extremely disappointing when a person like Chris goes all out in the media, slamming the governor over the appointment he made. Chris has been a state Senator for almost 12 years. He is an attorney and a Constitution scholar. Why has he not done anything to change the law (allowing our MS governors to fill a vacancy by appointment) if it is something that he so adamantly opposes?! Why hasn’t anyone worked to change our current state law before now if this is an issue? If people do not want the governor to be able to make an appointment to fill a vacated Senate seat, then you have an obligation to work with your state legislators to change the law. You can’t wait until a situation like this one arises to complain.
It is an issue like this one that puts me at odds from time to time with my own Conservative friends and associates. It’s not that we disagree about The People having the right to choose their own elected officials. We agree about that 100%! What I don’t agree with them about is slamming the governor for doing what is well within his right to do because Mississippians chose to allow our governors to have that power. Instead of spending time, filling up the media and social media with mud slinging hate posts, time could be better spent trying to fix the real issue at hand which is with the law itself. Why hasn’t Chris McDaniel used his PAC or himself, as a state Senator, to change this law if he and others so adamantly oppose it, or at the very least, he could have used his PAC to bring statewide awareness to the issue? Why do we only ever hear about these things during an election year when he is running for office? He has had the ability for almost 12 years to work to amend the law. Let’s be honest though……..if Governor Bryant had appointed McDaniel to Cochran’s seat, Chris and his group would not be saying a word about the governor taking away the voice of The People.
With the appointment controversy being plastered all over the media, I am reminded of our Mississippi GOP State Convention during the Presidential campaigns. All of a sudden, everyone in the McDaniel group was outraged over the process of electing delegates and Executive Committee members in our state. And admittedly, there were a lot of people that shared their desire to reevaluate the process and make necessary changes even though they chose not voice them at the time. It is, oftentimes, hard for people to want to join Chris’s efforts and not be put off with him and his group because of their extremely negative and counterproductive methodologies and actions when they oppose an issue or a person. If they were so concerned about the delegate and committee member processes, why had they not been working to change them before the Presidential election year ever occurred? What have any of them done since that time to change the process before the 2020 campaigns begin?! All that I have seen is a bunch of outrage at the moment (giving them something to use to rile up their supporters and gain votes), and then they are on to the next issue to be outraged by and before changing or truly attempting to change the first issue that they had a problem with. Where does this get Conservatives, their constituents, or Mississippians? All it does is leave people angry over an issue and gives them no resolution or possible future solution, enabling people like Chris McDaniel to have something to blame the establishment for in the future and use to gain votes. How is this any different or better than those they condemn?
As citizens, we have a personal responsibility to ensure that our government functions as it is required to do by law. If our laws need to be changed, it is as much up to us, as citizens, as it is to those we elect to represent us to fight for change. There are many laws in Mississippi and in our country that need to be amended. If we want change, there are many steps that can be taken to accomplish those goals. If Mississippians are unhappy about Governor Bryant appointing Cindy Hyde-Smith to Senator Cochran’s Senate seat, you should contact your statewide elected Representatives and Senators to ask them what can be done to change the law and encourage them to do so. As someone who voted for Chris McDaniel in the primary and runoff elections of 2014, I do not for a minute believe that Governor Bryant had any obligation to appoint him to Senator Cochran’s seat. The amount of support Chris had in 2014 is not the same as it is now. Thankfully, we will all be able to vote this year, so time will tell how it all works out.