Lynne Cheney for Senate?

A lot of Republicans — maybe 20, maybe more — want to replace the late Craig Thomas in the U.S. Senate, State GOP Chairman Fred Parady said Monday. Applicants already include recently resigned Wyoming U.S. Attorney Matt Mead, state Rep. Colin Simpson of Cody, state Sen. John Barrasso of Casper, and former state GOP Chairman Tom Sansonetti of Cheyenne.

Parady on Monday outlined the process the party will follow to nominate three candidates to replace Thomas, who died last week at the age of 74. Democratic Gov. Dave Freudenthal will then select the successor, who’ll serve until the 2008 general election. Parady, former Wyoming House speaker, vowed to run the process in a way that would honor Thomas. “This process is open, it’s comprehensive and it will be fair, and our purpose is to select the best possible three names to represent Wyoming in the United States Senate,” he said.

Many other candidates are mentioned in the article but this one, buried toward the end of a long piece, is raising some eyebrows:

A spokesperson for Lynne Cheney, wife of the vice president, would not deny that she, too, was a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat, according to The Associated Press.

My guess is that Cheney’s spokesman simply thought the question out of left field but didn’t want to immediately answer. Having a sitting second lady become a Senator would be novel, indeed. It would also raise some interesting Constitutional questions.

More interesting, since it is actually happening and not just idle speculation, is that Wyoming bucks the national trend of simply having governors appoint whomever they wish, almost invariably a member of their own party. Often, a surviving spouse is chosen. Or, as happened a few years ago in Alaska, the governor appoints his own daughter.

It seems much more fair to have the party of the elected Senator chose his successor.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies 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. It would also raise some interesting Constitutional questions.

    How is that, James? I don’t think the Constitution says a whisper about nepotism, nor is “second lady” a Constitutional office.

    I don’t think it’s a good idea, but that’s policy, not constitutional law.

  2. Mark says:

    But it is the governor who has the final call among the 3 names submitted. I would expect Freudenthal would choose the candidate who would be easist to beat in 2008 – especially if he decides to run.

    And no, I don’t think there would be a constitutional issue about Lynn Cheney serving in the Senate unless she did not have Wyoming residency.

  3. James Joyner says:

    I don’t think the Constitution says a whisper about nepotism, nor is “second lady” a Constitutional office.

    True enough (although there are statutory prohibitions on nepotism which followed JFK’s appointment of his brother as AG). I was thinking, of course, of this from Article I, Section 6:

    No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

    Granted, it’s her husband, not her, that has an executive position. Still, there’s a certain conflict of interest involved, not least of which is that she’d be a “juror” in any theoretical impeachment hearings.

  4. Tlaloc says:

    A lot of Republicans — maybe 20, maybe more — want to replace the late Craig Thomas in the U.S. Senate, State GOP Chairman Fred Parady said Monday.

    LOL. When 20 republicans are “a lot” you know the party is getting pretty thin.

    Cheap shot, but I had to go there.

  5. Tlaloc says:

    True enough (although there are statutory prohibitions on nepotism which followed JFK’s appointment of his brother as AG).

    Wouldn’t those be investigated by an impartial Department of Justice, theoretically?

    Problem solved for the Cheneys.

  6. Beldar says:

    She could recuse herself in any impeachment trial of the VPOTUS.

    I don’t think there are constitutional dimensions to whatever other practical problems or objections might be suggested.

    The most serious problem would be that of waste disposal and cleanup. (Lots of mess from exploding Hard Left heads.)

  7. Tlaloc says:

    The most serious problem would be that of waste disposal and cleanup. (Lots of mess from exploding Hard Left heads.)

    No, no, don’t throw me in that there biar patch!

    If you think the left is bothered by giving the Cheney family more visibility before a presidential election you are going to be awfully surprised. I *wish* they had a 24 hour channel of nothing but Cheney. The Republican party would be talked about only in the past tense.

  8. Billy says:

    I agree that there are no constitutional problems with her appointment. Practically, I don’t see it happening, since the (Democratic?)governor will still have to pick from three candidates nominated by the party.

  9. Mark says:

    James,

    But if there was an Article I, Section 6 issue, then certainly Frank Murkowski could not have appointed his daughter to his old Senate seat.

    That is seemingly a worse violation of nepotism than the situation in Wyoming. It’s not like Dick Cheney is going to be personally appointing his wife to the seat.

  10. James Joyner says:

    But if there was an Article I, Section 6 issue, then certainly Frank Murkowski could not have appointed his daughter to his old Senate seat.

    A state governor is not part of the federal executive branch, except to the extent he’s way down the list of successors to the President in the case of a monumental disaster via the Presidential Succession Act of 1947. And Murkowski was way down the list, indeed, as Alaska is the 49th state.

    That is seemingly a worse violation of nepotism than the situation in Wyoming.

    Not much doubt about that.

  11. just me says:

    I don’t see much of a problem with this constitutionally, ethical considerations may be involved, but I am not really sure that it would be unethical either.

    I don’t think it would be that bad of an appointment, but I don’t see it as being likely to happen. I figure her name would be among the first scratched off the list, but you never know.

    I actually think she could be a formidable opponent-although I imagine any race for an election to the seat would turn into the opponent running against her husband-so I am not sure she would actually accept having her name added to the list.

  12. I believe we had the wife of the President as Senator for about 10 days in 2001.

  13. Michael says:

    I don’t think this is a constitutional problem, nor even really a policy issue. However, as a matter of practicality, would you want to try and defend a senate seat where your candidate is the wife of an extremely unpopular high-profile figure? Or would Mrs. Cheney not run, in which case your party doesn’t get the advantage of having an incumbent in the race?