LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers, a Manchester Republican, introduced a bill that would remove Gov. Andy Beshear’s ability to fill the vacancy of a U.S. senator who dies or retires from office.
The bill would do away with Kentucky’s current law, which allows the governor to appoint someone to fill the seat until the next regular election of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 228 would require the governor to appoint someone to temporarily fill a vacancy left by a U.S. senator from a list of three names given to him by the executive committee of the political party of the senator who formerly held the seat, adding Kentucky to a list of at least six states that require an appointed senator to be the same party as the person who previously held the office.
That appointment would last no longer than 18 months, though, requiring Kentucky to hold a special election to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the vacated term. Instead of just using the regular election process, the bill sets up a series of potential scenarios for how the next senator would be elected.
Provisions in the bill:
- If the Senate seat is vacated more than three months before a regular election, candidates would have to file their petitions to run by the fourth week of August. All candidates, regardless of political affiliation, would be put on the ballot. The two candidates who get the most votes on the day of the general election would enter a run-off election held 70 days later. The winner of that would fill the unexpired term.
- If the Senate seat is vacated less than three months before a regular election, and there is a regular election the next year, the next person would be elected using the regular election process the following year.
- If the Senate seat is vacated less than three months before a regular election, and there is not a regular election the next year, the governor would have to call a special election within 30 days to be held after 60 days but no later than 90 days. Candidates would have to file their petitions no later than 49 days before the election. All candidates would be on the same ballot and a candidate would have to get a majority of votes to be elected. If no candidate gets a majority, the top two vote-getters would have a run-off election 49 days after the special election.
- If there’s already a Senate election planned for that seat in the year when the office is vacated, the person appointed would fill the seat until the person who wins the election is sworn into office in January.