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No special election to replace Mark Souder

Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-Ind.) will not schedule a special election to replace former Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.), who resigned one week ago after a sex scandal involving a part-time staffer. The decision by Daniels means that the 3rd district of Indiana will remain vacant until, at earliest, Nov. 3, the day after the midterms.

This is mixed news for State Sen. Marlin Stutzman, whose strong showing in the state's U.S. Senate primary makes him the frontrunner for this seat, but who now has roughly six months of campaigning ahead of him instead of a snap election. And I think it removes a talking point for Republicans, who have expressed anger that the New York seat of former Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) will not be filled before November, although Republicans might point out that New Yorkers already have an election budgeted for September (the statewide primaries) while Indiana has nothing on the calender.

The statement:

INDIANAPOLIS (May 28, 2010) – Governor Mitch Daniels said today that a special election to replace the vacancy in Indiana’s Third Congressional District created by the resignation of Congressman Mark Souder will occur on the same day as the general election in November. Souder’s resignation was effective on May 21.

“After a week of reflection and gathering the views of others, I conclude that the public interest can best be served by a special election held simultaneously with the general election on November 2.

“The grounds for this decision are: the cost to taxpayers, the convenience of the voting public, and the involvement of the largest possible number of citizens in the selection of a new Congressman.

“It seems to me that these interests outweigh any gains from having a member of Congress present for what would amount to no more than 20 voting days.”

According to state and federal law, the governor is required to set a date for a special election. The governor issued Executive Order 10-03, which establishes the date of the special election. The writ of election is being delivered to the county clerks in the eight counties comprising the Third Congressional District.

A copy of the executive order may be found at this link:

Other related information:

* The estimated cost for a Third District special election separate from the general election is $850,000 to $950,000, according to the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office.
* When a congressional vacancy occurs, the congressional staff continues to work and serve citizens in the district. There will be no gap in constituent service.
* According to state law, the Republican and Democratic parties have 30 days from the effective resignation date (May 21) to caucus and certify their candidates for the special election. Independent candidates may circulate petitions to be placed on the special election ballot. The petitioning process can begin at any time, but must be completed no later than 50 days before the date of the scheduled special election. With various requirements for the major political parties, independent candidates, ballot printing and absentee voting, August would be the earliest time frame for a special election.
* With various recesses and targeted adjournment dates, Congress would likely have fewer than 20 voting days between early August and the general election.

By David Weigel  |  May 28, 2010; 1:26 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Election  
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