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The Veep Selections: Surprise, Surprise!
Political Junkie
Send your questions about campaigns and elections.

By Ken Rudin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Friday, Aug. 11, 2000

Well, one can certainly make the case that in a year of widespread predictability -- when the selection of Al Gore and George W. Bush as their respective parties' presidential nominees came as no surprise -- the same cannot be said about their running mates. Needless to say, I was completely floored by the choice of Joe Lieberman. And as for naming Dick Cheney -- heck, how would anyone expect the man in charge of finding a Bush running mate would wind up as the choice himself? In fact, in response to my asking for your predictions on who the number twos would be, no one guessed Cheney. And only one person, Matt Haag of Baltimore, Md., correctly tabbed Lieberman.

Since I've spent the past two weeks in Philadelphia covering the GOP convention for National Public Radio, it became impossible to offer up new Political Junkie columns. It sure was painful to see that my last column -- the confident though incorrect predictions of Jim Gilmore for the Republicans and Dick Durbin for the Democrats -- remained up on the site all this time. Fortunately, there are no more predictions this week.

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Lieberman served in the state Senate and lost a House race before being elected to the Senate. (Collection of Ken Rudin)
Question: Will Joseph Lieberman be able to simultaneously run for reelection to the Senate as well as seek the vice presidency? Lyndon Johnson ran for both in 1960, but I think it required a change in Texas state law. Can Lieberman do the same in Connecticut? If not, who will be his likely replacement? -- Greg Jackson, Los Angeles, Calif.

Answer: Connecticut law says nothing about a candidate running for both offices, so officials take that to mean Lieberman could do so, which he has said he will do. You're right about LBJ -- the Texas legislature passed a law in 1959 allowing him to run for both the presidency and reelection to the Senate. Johnson's 1960 presidential bid failed but the law still came in handy when he was selected as John Kennedy's veep. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen utilized the same law in 1988 when he was chosen by Michael Dukakis as his running mate. The Democratic national ticket lost that year but Bentsen won reelection to his Senate seat.

Regardless of Al Gore's fate, Lieberman remains the overwhelming favorite to win a third Senate term this year against Waterbury Mayor Philip Giordano (R), who is unknown statewide. The fact that the Democratic senator is running for both offices has given the GOP a chance to smirk that Lieberman must be nervous about Gore's prospects in November. But if the Gore-Lieberman ticket wins, then Connecticut's Republican governor, John Rowland, will pick a successor to Lieberman -- a successor who assuredly will be a Republican. The most prominent of the names being mentioned are Lt. Gov. Jodi Rell and Reps. Nancy Johnson and Chris Shays.

State law says that if Lieberman quits the Senate race by Oct. 27, then a special Democratic convention could select a replacement nominee. If that happened, then the Democratic nominee -- possibly Attorney General Richard Blumenthal -- would be favored to hold onto the seat for the Dems.

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Cheney served in Congress for 10 years before becoming Secretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush. (Collection of Ken Rudin)
Question: In many of the news articles describing Dick Cheney's nomination as the GOP vice presidential candidate, they say he switched his voter registration from Texas to Wyoming to avoid a "constitutional problem." Is there really a constitutional problem with having the president and vice president from the same state, or is it simply tradition to have them from different states? -- Will Gomaa, Burke, Va.

Answer: The Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution states that members of the Electoral College may not vote for a president AND a vice president who are inhabitants of the same state as themselves. Cheney has lived and voted in Texas since 1993, so he switched his residence back to Wyoming, which he represented in Congress for 10 years, to satisfy this requirement. Otherwise, the 32 Texas electors could not have voted for both Bush and Cheney, should the GOP ticket win the Lone Star State in November.

It would have been fun to see what kind of constitutional havoc would have resulted had Cheney not switched his residence. But the Republicans were apparently not taking any chances.

Question: Why has the Republican convention generally come before the Democratic one? -- Jacqueline McBride, Minneapolis, Minn.

Answer: Tradition has it that the party out of power -- in this case the Republicans -- holds its convention first. The last time the GOP held the White House, in 1992, the Democrats held their convention first. This has been the tradition for nearly a century; the last time the party in power had its convention first was in 1908, when the Republicans held their convention three weeks before the Democrats.

Question: Why does a sitting senator have to resign from the Senate in order to be the vice presidential nominee? Does the same hold true for a sitting congressman? Is this a constitutional rule? -- Ira N. Goldman, Science Attache, U.S. Department of Energy, Permanent Mission of the U.S. to International Organizations, Vienna, Austria

Answer: A senator does not have to resign from the Senate to be the V.P. nominee. But that person could not hold both positions should he or she be elected to the vice presidency. Thus, for example, when Al Gore, Walter Mondale, Hubert Humphrey and Lyndon Johnson were elected vice president, they had to resign their Senate seats. When Sen. Bob Dole was picked to run for V.P. in 1976, the ticket lost and he simply remained in the Senate. He was not up for reelection that year. It's different with members of the House, who are up every two years. Some states allow them to run for both offices. But in the rare cases where House members made it to the ticket -- as with Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 -- they usually decide to drop their bid for reelection.

Question: Watching the Republican roll call on C-SPAN, I noticed that there were seven votes cast for "others." Who got these, John McCain or Alan Keyes? -- Eric Lurio, New York, N.Y.

Answer: Good guess. Former Ambassador Keyes, who stayed in the race for the Republican presidential nomination to the end, won six delegates. McCain, who dropped out of the contest months ago and released his delegates, nevertheless got one vote at the convention.

Got a question? Ask Ken Rudin: junkie@washingtonpost.com

Ken Rudin, political editor at National Public Radio, is also the creator of washingtonpost.com's ScuttleButton contest.


© Copyright 2000 Ken Rudin


 
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