Healey Calls for Kerry to Resign

Boston Globe – Healey calls for Kerry to resign

As part of a coordinated attack by the Bush campaign, Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey called yesterday for US Senator John F. Kerry to resign immediately, saying that he had missed so many roll call votes in the Senate that he wasn’t representing the Commonwealth in the Senate.

Healey, Bush’s campaign co-chairwoman in Massachusetts, accused Kerry of having abandoned his duties in the Senate by missing 87 percent of the roll calls this year and 64 percent last year because he was campaigning for the presidency.

”John Kerry has left the people of Massachusetts underrepresented in one of the highest lawmaking bodies in the nation,” said Healey, speaking outside the governor’s State House office. An immediate Kerry resignation would clear the way for Governor Mitt Romney to appoint a Republican to the seat and bolster GOP strength in the Senate, where the Republicans rule by a razor-thin majority.

Kerry brushed aside the Republican attack, saying that his absenteeism in the Senate is a necessary part of his presidential campaign effort, which is aimed at ”serving the citizens of Massachusetts and the country in the proposals I’ve laid out.”

”I’m running to provide responsible leadership, and I intend to continue to do that,” said Kerry, who spoke to reporters at the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport in Covington, Ky.

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Massachusetts Democrats quickly accused Healey of holding a double standard for not applying her demands to George Bush’s run for the presidency in 2000 when he was frequently absent from his duties as Texas governor.

”Arguably, an incumbent governor has many more administrative responsibilities than an incumbent United State senator has,” said state Democratic Party chairman Philip Johnston.

Asked if George Bush should have resigned as governor of Texas in 2000, Healey stepped around the question.

”We’re talking about John Kerry’s current record representing the people of Massachusetts,” Healey said. ”My responsibility is toward them. I was elected to represent the people of Massachusetts, just as John Kerry was. John Kerry is not doing his job, and it’s incumbent on me to point out the fact that we would be better represented if he were to resign and allow that position to be filled by someone who can devote 100 percent of their time and energy to representing Massachusetts.”

Candidates running for higher office while still holding their current one always face this problem, although Kerry does seem to be carrying the absentee bit further than most. His Senate salary, while modest in the context of the Heinz fortune, amounts to an undeclared taxpayer donation to his campaign since he has essentially been paid to run for president. My preference would be for all candidates seeking election to an office other than the one they currently hold to do so as private citizens.

The residents of Massachussets also face a concurrent problem: If Kerry wins, his Senate seat will be vacated and the governor, a Republican, will appoint a successor. Of course, a Kerry resignation would have that effect immediately but allow an election in November that would, presumably, lead to another Democrat taking the seat.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. McGehee says:

    Of course, a Kerry resignation would have that effect immediately but allow an election in November that would, presumably, lead to another Democrat taking the seat.

    The news reports I’ve seen say that an appointee would occupy the seat until the end of the current term, after the 2008 election — implying that there would be no special election. I don’t know Massachusetts law on this but I believe it’s possible they could have it that way.

    The Democrats in Massachusetts have introduced the idea of eliminating the gubernatorial appointment to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat. I’m not sure whether they seriously expect to be able to override the inevitable Romney veto.

    In Alaska, the same idea (due to the Murkowski factor) is being pushed by Democrats as an initiative, but the overwhelmingly Republican legislature can short-circuit the initiative by passing a substantially similar law. So now the issue is whether the law the legislature passed is really “substantially similar.”

    The Massachusetts idea could go to voters (I don’t know their law on this either), I suppose.

  2. I see this as desperation on Kerry’s part. A man who knows he’s going to lose the position he’s running for holds onto his old position as best he can.

  3. Bryan says:

    Actually, IIRC, this came up when Lloyd Bentsen ran as a senator from Texas (before joining Dukakis’ campaign).

    The differences between the office of Governor and Senator are also important. No one calls the governor to “vote” on items before a body of elected officials. He signs or doesn’t sign.

  4. dw says:

    The one difference between Bush remaining governor and Kerry remaining in the Senate is that the governor of Texas has few powers and has little to do with the day-to-day operations of the state. The Texas Legislature holds most of the power; the governor is left signing and vetoing bills and proposing legislation. Dubya could do all that an hour a day.

    Being a senator, though, requires being present for votes. While Kerry’s absenteeism is troubling, I wonder how many senators skip out during session to campaign for re-election.

    You want an easy way to level the playing field between incumbents and challengers? Ban reps and senators from campaigning or fund-raising on any day the House or Senate are in session.

  5. Dave says:

    I would think Kerry would want to show his confidence that he will win by resigning, instead of hedging his bets.

    Y’know, if he thinks he has a chance. 🙂