Who would fill Sanders’ Senate seat?
By Guy Page
October 23, 2020 – Vermont conservatives see a silver lining if Joe Biden defeats Donald Trump on November 3: Vermont may no longer have Bernie Sanders as a senator.
According to Politico, Bernie Sanders wants a President-elect Biden to appoint him the next U.S. Secretary of Labor. The online news magazine quotes someone “close to the senator” as saying: “I can confirm he’s trying to figure out how to land that role or something like it. He, personally, does have an interest in it.” WCAX says neither he nor wife Jane are denying the story.
Which raises two questions: what would Bernie do as Secretary of Labor, and who would take his place in the Senate?
The Department of Labor has broad oversight over federal programs and regulations regarding the American workplace. A Secretary Sanders could be relied on to aggressively side with labor on virtually every dispute. Executive action supporting paid family leave and Green New Deal industries would be likely. Also, the Dept. of Labor oversees federal rulings and implementation of social security law and the Affordable Care Act a/k/a “Obamacare.”
Back here in Vermont, Gov. Phil Scott would appoint someone to fill Sanders’ seat and then, by law, must call a special election within six months. He’s allowed to appoint himself. The possibility of a Republican Senator Phil Scott sent some in the Vermont Twitterverse all, well, a-twitter:
“All the more critical we elect @zuckermanforvt our Governor. We cannot let @GovPhilScott hand the Senate back to Mitch McConnell, which he has pointedly refused to promise not to do,” Democratic activist and Addison County High Bailiff candidate Dave Silberman said.
Paul Heintz, editor of Seven Days, tweeted a link to his February 2020 story in which Scott says he would appoint an independent – but not necessarily an independent with Sanders’ views. Heintz wrote:
“Scott, a Republican, said he would abide by Vermont’s tradition of naming a replacement from the same party as the outgoing officeholder — in Sanders’ case, an independent. The governor said he would not appoint anyone to the interim position who planned to run in the special election because doing so would give that person “a leg up” in the race.
“I wouldn’t think that would be fair,” he said. “So I’d probably try to find an independent who is not affiliated with either party and not seeking to become the next senator.”
Some Vermont observers say it’s unlikely the conscientious Gov. Scott would leave the governor’s office before the pandemic and its economic aftermath is resolved.