With the nomination of Rep. Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services, potential candidates are already maneuvering to fill his seat. While phone calls are being made and rumors are being launched, no one is yet sure when this special election sprint will end.
Determining this should be easy: the governor determines an election date no less than 40 days after the seat is vacated. Michael O’Sullivan, an alum of Georgia’s Secretary of State’s office and current Executive Director of GeorgiaCAN, has posted the relevant statutes on Twitter:
Simple! The only question is when Rep. Price will resign his seat. He is expected to sail through the confirmation process, thanks to Harry Reid’s “nuclear option” and the presence of Senator Isakson on the confirmation committee. Per the AJC, Lamar Alexander could hold the vote as soon as Inauguration Day, January 20th.
However, Price is also committed to budget reform and some aimless talk has suggested he may hope to pass some Obamacare reforms before he moves on to implementing them. Regardless, it is likely his confirmation will take place before February of 2017, which means this election could take place as early as a week after Valentine’s Day.
However, many of the likely candidates are state legislators who will begin their 40 day session on January 9th. While elected officials do not have to resign to raise money for federal office, they do have to resign upon qualifying.
The likely candidacy of Representative Jan Jones, the Speaker Pro-Tempore and one of two constitutional officers in the House, further complicates the question. Georgia’s Constitution requires the House elect a Speaker Pro Tem, but leaves the structure of that election up to House rules. Currently the Speaker Pro Tem is elected on the first day of session, immediately after the Speaker himself.
Will Rep. Jones decline to run for Speaker Pro Tem this year, opening up yet another race in this escalating chain of dominoes? For anyone writing looking for sublots in 2017’s legislative session, watch House Republicans angling to succeed her.
Law offers some clarification when special elections coincide with the General Assembly’s session. Once again, it puts the decision in the governor’s hands.
Which means… what exactly? It means the observer I’m cribbing from thinks the election could be as late as:
So this thing will happen at some point between March Madness and the beginning of the next college football season. Probably.