Friday, May 9, 2014

Zoeller Wants to Change Senate Nomination Process

Greg Zoeller
Greg Zoeller is urging major changes to the way U.S. Senators are nominated by each state.

According to an Associated Press report published last week, the Indiana Attorney General backs a “soft repeal” of the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution where the candidates for the U.S. Senate would not be voted on and nominated at the primary level by voters but nominated by the Indiana General Assembly. That would not change anything for the November election and the way Senators are elected.

At first blush, you think that perhaps Greg might have been hitting his cousin Fuzzy's vodka a bit too hard.  There may actually, however, be a method to his seeming madness.

Zoeller told the AP that this would make sure that Senators are working more for the state that sent them to Congress than working for the feds. Originally, prior to the 17th Amendment, the people elected the House, but the state legislature chose the Senators. Zoeller’s plan is radical, but it doesn’t go as far out there as some.  There are some members of the Tea Party that want to go back to pre-17th Amendment times. In fact, Richard Mourdock himself advocated for it. Zoeller’s plan would still be a radical change

It's fun to play what if with it.  Perhaps with this plan in place, we would not have seen Senator Richard Lugar be unceremoniously punted from office by Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock in May of 2012. That certainly could have also changed the November election results where, presumably, Joe Donnelly would have had a more difficult uphill climb against the well-liked Lugar. That’s if Donnelly were even nominated.  Perhaps this is the genesis of Zoeller's idea...the craziness that led to Mourdock's nomination in the first place.

In theory, Zoeller’s plan would combine the best of both worlds. The legislature gets to choose the person it feels best advocates Indiana’s agenda, but the voters get to ultimately elect which person at that will be. In practice, here in our state, it gives an already powerful Indiana General Assembly that much more power.

For this reason, the plan should be forgotten about quickly.  

1 comment:

Paul K. Ogden said...

"Perhaps with this plan in place, we would not have seen Senator Richard Lugar be unceremoniously punted from office by Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock in May of 2012."

Actually with Zoeller's plan it is much more likely Lugar would have been booted and much earlier than 2012. With what constituency was Lugar the weakest? Hardcore Republican partisans. Who are GOP legislators a subset of? Hardcore Republican partisans. Lugar's real strengths were independents and Democrats. There are no Republican legislators who fall into either category.

Lugar had alienated Republican politicos throughout the state. He wasn't coming home for Lincoln Day dinners, would not go to other Republican fundraisers, and refused to help Republicans in Indiana out with their campaigns raising money, cutting commercials, etc. He wouldn't even let them appear on yard signs with him or use pictures with him in their campaigns. There isn't a Republican state legislator down there who Lugar helped get elected. Meanwhile Mourdock had spent all his time in the state building up hardcore Republican support. I think at the end, Mourdock had the endorsement of 70 plus of the 92 county chairmen.

Lugar would have been dumped much earlier if the selection process was by the state legislature. In fact, as a mayor of Indianapolis, it's unlikely Republican legislators would have ever nominated him to run in the first place.