Get ready for lame duck shenanigans

In this Hanukkah election season for the Democrats, another day brought another gift in that Democrat Kyrsten Sinema was declared the winner for the Arizona senate seat vacated by retiring Republican Jeff Flake.

Meanwhile, the US senate race in Mississippi will be heading to a runoff vote on November 27 since no candidate won more than 50% of the vote. The Republican incumbent candidate Cindy Hyde-Smith has got herself into trouble by saying that “”If [Tupelo cattle rancher, Colin Hutchinson] invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” Her opponent Democrat Mike Espy is black and given the racist history of public hangings especially in the deep south, the comment was seen as reprehensible.

Meanwhile in Maine where ranked choice voting (RCV) for statewide primary and federal elections was approved twice by the voters, Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin, clearly fearing that his slim lead over Democrat Jared Golden might disappear if the second choice votes of the third and fourth place finishers are taken into account, has sued in federal court to stop the counting process and have him declared winner on the basis of just the first choice vote plurality. The hearing is taking place right now. I’d be surprised if the judge issues an injunction to stop the counting process but in the crazy world of American politics, anything can happen. Arbitrarily changing the rules of the game to benefit yourself and your own party seems to be a Republican trademark. If the judge rules against RCV, then you’d have to call for another election since the people voted on the basis of RCV and would have voted differently if it were a plurality election.

So the score right now is that in the 100-seat US Senate, Republicans lead 51-47 with the seats in Florida and Mississippi yet undecided but where Republicans have the edge. The outgoing senate had a Republican majority of 51-49. In the 435-seat House of Representatives, Democrats have a 228-198 majority with nine seats yet undecided, and things not looking good for Republicans in the undecided races in California, with even traditionally conservative and Republican Orange County possibly becoming 100% Democratic by the time all the dust settles. In the outgoing House, the Republicans had a 240-195 majority, so it is a really big swing away from the Republicans.

The US has this strange system where it takes about two months for the winners of elections to actually take office. Until that time, the existing body continues in office even if they have lost their majorities. This so-called ‘lame-duck’ period is ripe for shenanigans as the losing party tries to ram through as many things as they can in the time remaining where they control things.

We see this happening in Wisconsin where the odious governor Republican Scott Walker lost his bid to win a third term. Now the legislature is trying to pass measures that will limit the powers of the next governor Tony Evers who is a Democrat.

Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin are planning to strip certain powers from the governor’s office after Democrat Tony Evers defeated incumbent Republican Gov. Scott Walker Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Thursday that Republicans in the state legislature plan to strip Evers of some of the authority those same lawmakers gave Walker when he took office in 2011, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports.

Fitzgerald said that Republicans want to give Evers less authority in state rules that implement state laws. Republicans are worried that Evers could use the power they gave Walker eight years ago to weaken laws passed by the legislature, like the state’s voter ID law. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos also called for limiting the governor’s powers.

The lame duck session was called to try and pass a tax break for the Kimberly-Clark corporation but is now shifting its attention to the governor’s powers.

This kind of thing is not unprecedented. Republicans tried to do the something similar in North Carolina in 2016 after the incumbent Republican governor Pat McCrory lost to Democrat Roy Cooper.

It is not clear what the Republican Congress will try to do before the Democratic majority in the House takes over in January. They may try to give more gifts to the wealthy. These kinds of things make a mockery of the Democratic process. If you have to have an interim period before the new elected people take office, that should be a very stripped down caretaker government just to keep the machinery moving, not make major policy changes.


  1. says

    It is not clear what the Republican Congress will try to do before the Democratic majority in the House takes over in January. They may try to give more gifts to the wealthy.

    I’ve seen others suggest they may try to kill off the ACA as much as they possibly can and they may be able to do so more easily as McCain had previously served as a roadblock to their agenda.

  2. Trickster Goddess says

    It really makes me appreciate our parliamentary system. When an election is called, the current government is dissolved and all the legislators have 30 days to campaign to keep their jobs. No bills are introduced and no legislation is passed until the election winners are sworn in. All bills pending at the time of the election are scrapped.

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