Kentucky gubernatorial race could tip balance of power in Senate

November 1, 2023

Who knew that the state of Kentucky could play the most critical role in which political party will control the Senate?

According to Breitbart, the gubernatorial battle between Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) and Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) on November 7. could ultimately decide which party runs the upper chamber.

Beshear, the current governor and a Democrat, has voiced opposition to and questioned a state law that says he would have to appoint a Republican replacement should Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) step down before the end of his term.

The issue became even more real after McConnell's spat of recent public health issues, including freezing up during press speeches multiple times this year alone.

The 81-year-old's Senate term will end in 2026, unless it's cut short over medical or personal reasons, which has become a much stronger possibility.

Breitbart noted:

The Seventeenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that when a Senate seat becomes vacant, the governor of the state shall declare a special election. It also includes, “That the legislature of any State may empower the [governor] to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct."

But a recent Kentucky law stated new, specific rules if a Senate seat became vacant.

In March 2021, Kentucky adopted a law saying that if a U.S. Senate seat became vacant, the leadership of the senator’s party would provide the names of three members of that same party to the governor and that regardless of the governor’s party affiliation, he must choose from the three names of the former senator’s party.

Beshear has countered that notion, which was first proven when he vetoed the bill.

He argued that the law violated Article 152 of the Kentucky Constitution, which allows the governor to appoint a replacement with no specific party strings.

The law was ultimately passed after the Republican-led legislature overrode the governor's veto.

While many believe that the Kentucky law would be the ultimate decider, Beshear, in theory, could try it his way. While it may not stick, it would take every bit of a year or more for the issue to be decided in court.

At the same time, control of the Senate would remain hanging, and probably cause all sorts of unintended chaos and consequences.

All that being said, the Kentucky gubernatorial race, one way or another, will have national implications.

Only time will tell who wins and how it affects the Senate.

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