On Kerry not voting
While researching the three Senate roll calls documented in the Slacktivist weblog today for my earlier post, I noticed (and added to my tally) the fact that John Kerry was recorded as "Not Voting" on all three. Indeed, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey have both called on Kerry to resign his seat. He's missed many roll calls in the Senate — 64% of them last year and 87% this year — since he went on the Presidential campaign trail. The effect is especially pronounced since the Senate is almost evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.
I'm inclined to agree that he should resign. In general, I think it's in the public's best interest for a sitting legislator (or executive, e.g., Gov. George W. Bush in 1999-2000) to attend to the job to which they were elected rather than run for office. In this case, specifically, Romney, a Republican, would no doubt replace Kerry with another Republican, thus shifting the precarious balance in the Senate. Cynic that I am, I suspect that to be there real reason for the calls for Kerry to resign. In any case, I wouldn't expect Kerry to resign. Perhaps there should be legislation that requires candidates to step down from public posts before they can campaign for other positions.
Meanwhile, Kerry canceled several campaign stops in the swing state of New Mexico for the specific purpose of going to Washington and voting for a measure that would fund health care benefits for veterans, only to have the Republican leadership postpone the vote. While it's apparently arguable as to why, my inner cynic tells me that its partisan gamesmanship, which is not in the public interest either.
And finally, not to be outdone in the gamesmanship department, the Massachusetts Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill — on party lines — that provides for a special election to fill Kerry's seat if he is elected to office. Without this bill, the Governor — currently a Republican — would appoint Kerry's successor. Gov. Romney can veto the bill, but the Senate has the votes to override.
I'm never sure who the winners are in this kind of political maneuvering, but I always know who the losers are: the public.