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National Review
National Review
2 Sep 2023
Caroline Downey

NextImg:Kentucky Governor Dodges on Whether He Will Appoint Republican if McConnell Retires

The Democratic Kentucky governor refused to answer Thursday if he would appoint a Republican in the event that Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell resigns due to deteriorating health.

A reporter asked Governor Andy Beshear if he would follow state law requiring a senator replacement from one of three nominees selected by the state Republican Party if McConnell left his post.

“There is no Senate vacancy,” Beshear told the press. “Senator McConnell has said he’s going to serve out his term, and I believe him, so I’m not going to speculate about something that hasn’t happened and isn’t going to happen.”

Probed further for clarity, Beshear said he would not “sensationalize” McConnell’s health, the Washington Post reported.

Under the Seventeenth Amendment, governors have the authority to appoint a replacement to serve out the rest of an outgoing senator’s term or to hold office until a special election can be conducted if that senator steps down due to “death, resignation or expulsion.” Under Kentucky state law, the governor must choose an appointee within 21 days from “a list of three names submitted by the state executive committee of the same political party as the Senator who held the vacant seat to be filled.”

After the law passed in the state’s GOP-dominated legislature, Beshear vetoed it, claiming that it was unconstitutional because it took the power to directly elect senators away from the citizens. Beshear also argued that the law violated a part of the Kentucky Constitution that said that state-level vacancies “shall be filled by appointment of the Governor,” the Post noted. The legislature overrode his veto. The governor’s Thursday comment left it unclear as to whether he would consider defying the law and installing a Democratic senator in McConnell’s absence.

For the second time in about a month, McConnell suddenly stopped speaking when answering questions from reporters. When asked about running for reelection, he couldn’t respond and returned a blank stare, even after an aide asked him if he had heard the question.

“I’m sorry y’all, we’re going to need a minute,” the aide said.

The congressional doctor cleared McConnell to return to work Thursday after the blunder.

“I have consulted with Leader McConnell and conferred with his neurology team,” Dr. Brian Monahan, the attending physician of the U.S. Congress, wrote in a statement. “After evaluating yesterday’s incident, I have informed Leader McConnell that he is medically clear to continue with his schedule as planned.”

In March, McConnell fell at an event in Washington, D.C., suffering head trauma. After receiving treatment for a concussion at the hospital, he was discharged five days later. As a result of having polio as a child, McConnell walks with a limp.

“Occasional lightheadedness is not uncommon in concussion recovery and can also be expected as a result of dehydration,” Monahan said.

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley called the Senate a “privileged nursing home” after McConnell’s second gaffe, telling Fox News that it’s time for him and other elderly politicians to hang up their hats after many years of service, for which she gave them credit.