Since yesterday’s announcement our Congressman, Rep. Ryan Zinke, was chosen as the nominee for the next Secretary of the Interior, social media has speculated who Gov. Bullock will appoint as his replacement. The answer? No one.
There is a state law, passed last year, which gives the governor the power to appoint someone to fill a House or Senate vacancy, but the House part is unconstitutional. Perhaps the legislature should have read their pocket copies of the founding documents before passing that law. It’d be an easy thing for them to fix this session.
In theory, Bullock could still appoint a Republican under state law, forcing the state Republican party to choose their top three contenders, but that person wouldn’t be accepted by the U.S. House, wouldn’t be able to vote, and probably wouldn’t even be given an office. Assuming Zinke is confirmed, his office and staff would keep operating until the vacancy is filled, providing constituent services like information, assistance with government agencies, and tours.
Assuming Zinke’s confirmation is as quick as previous Interior Secretaries, his office would remain vacant until the Spring, and a special election would be held within 85-100 days. Low turnout plus a quick timeline for nominating conventions and an entire campaign means that dark horse candidates would have very difficult time. The likeliest candidates have already made a statewide name for themselves.