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Senate appointees everywhere!

The news that West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) will appoint a senator to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D) means that seven appointees will have served in the 111th Congress -- the largest number in more than six decades.

Manchin's appointee -- and he and his team are keeping the timing and identity of the pick very quiett at the moment -- will join five other sitting Senate appointees. Four of those -- Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Roland Burris (D-Ill.) and Ted Kaufmann (D-Del.) -- were selected to replace senators who joined the new administration (including President Obama and Vice President Biden).

The other current Senate appointee, Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.), was tapped by his former boss, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (I), to replace former Sen. Mel Martinez (R) after Martinez resigned last summer to take a lobbying job.

One more appointed senator served briefly during the 111th: former Sen. Paul Kirk (D-Mass.). Kirk, a longtime confidant of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), was selected by Gov. Deval Patrick (D) to fill Kennedy's seat from late September until the January special election. Kirk had promised not to run in the special; that race, of course, was won by Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.).

The last Congress to have seven appointed senators was the 87th (1961-1962), according to Senate records.

Since the 102nd Congress (1991-1992) at most two appointed senators have served at the same time. (Worth noting: the 79th Congress holds the record for the highest number of appointees; 13 appointed senators served from 1945 to 1946.)

The high number of unelected Senators coupled with a very volatile electoral environment have combined to create a wild ride for appointees so far cycle.

Of the four Democratic appointees tapped to fill seats left vacant by those who joined the Obama administration only Gillibrand appears to have an entirely firm hold on her seat -- and that comes after months of primary opponents getting in and out of the race.

The well-funded Bennet is favored to emerge intact from his primary against former Colorado state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D) -- although Romanoff won a high profile endorsement from former President Bill Clinton Tuesday. Bennet won't be out of the electoral woods even if he wins the primary, however, as he will face either Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck (R) or former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton (R) in the general election.

And, in the two states where Democratic appointees are not running for re-election -- Illinois and Delaware -- the party's prospects of holding the seats are anything but certain; the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates Illinois as a toss-up and Delaware as likely Republican.

Even in the case of LeMieux things have not gone according to plan. What was once supposed to be a sure thing win for Crist is now a toss-up thanks to a barrage of unexpected turns including former state House Speaker Marco Rubio's (R) upstart bid, Crist's party switch -- he is running as an independent -- and Rep. Kendrick Meek's (D-Fla.) own primary challenge from billionaire Jeff Greene (D).

The volatility and electoral uncertainty surrounding this latest crop of appointments stands in contrast to other recent Senate appointments: six of the previous seven appointees who ran for a full term were elected. (The lone exception was Missouri Sen. Jean Carnahan in 2002.)

Voters, frustrated with how Washington works (or doesn't) and fed up with politics as usual, seem to be in more of a throw the bums out mood this election than in cycles past. And, that bodes poorly for appointed Senators to keep the recent streak of victories in tact.

-- Felicia Sonmez

By The Fix  |  June 30, 2010; 10:42 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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37th didn't follow the link! If he had he would have seen that 3 of those 11 wins




make a Republican congressional seat a Democratic congressional seat.

If he can read a chart.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | June 30, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

You see: When Obama promised to “change the way Washington works,” what he really meant was changing where the usual Beltway backroom wheelers and dealers do their business. And when he talked about changing the “culture” in the nation’s capitol, what he really meant was just changing titles.

In addition to carving out the coffee-house loophole and using personal e-mail accounts to communicate with the influence industry, White House officials have been advising lobbyists looking for administration jobs to de-register — shedding their K Street status — to get around Obama’s vaunted lobbyist hiring ban. With more than 40 ex-lobbyists working in the administration, Obama’s no-lobbyists executive order already has more holes in it than a moth-eaten crocheted sweater.

Posted by: bumblingberry | June 30, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I think everyone understands the point

except Margaret who is having trouble comprehending it.

If Obama appointed a Congressman from a safe democratic district to the administration, it was virtually certain that the democrats would retain that seat.

Those seats were not competitive.

So those wins say NOTHING about whether Obama is doing well or not in the general electorate.


Posted by: LaserLight | June 30, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

And it was such a long and humiliating losing streak: 11 straight wins.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | June 30, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

And it was such a long and humiliating losing streak: 11 straight wins.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | June 30, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

LaserLight: I'd hardly call NY-23 a "safe democratic district." It had been in Republican hands for over 100 years until the D's won it in the special election. And PA-12 had been R until 2006.

On the other hand, the R won in Hawaii recently, so Republicans can claim to have snapped their losing streak.

Posted by: Gallenod | June 30, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

There was also a hign number of special elections in the House - due to primarily to the change in administration.

This led to a higher-than-usual number of vacancies in safe democratic districts -

This allowed the democrats to claim for months that they were riding a string of special election victories - which they deceptively claimed signaled support for Obama which it didn't.

Posted by: LaserLight | June 30, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

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