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Author Topic: What if a Presidential candidate can't run?
I Am 6-Ironsman
Deck the Malls


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I was thinking about this in light of convention season being upon us. I'm embarassed that I, as a political science major don't know the answer to this question. What if a nominated candidate for President is unable to run- the primaries are done, nominated at the convention, a month or two from Election Day. The worst case scenario is he dies, but even for any other reason stops becoming a viable candidate and can't run (physical problems, legal problems, etc)? I am referring only to non-incumbent candidates, not the sitting President running for a second term, because the law on that is clear, that the VP, if able, becomes President and on down. A new running mate would be picked, probably a high-ranking Senator or Member of Congress, but that's not the issue.
I cannot recall a law re: this or even a procedure for resolving it. Would a new primary have to be held?

(By the way I guess I shouldn't feel too bad, my studies were in US foreign policy and Congressional legislation so I can talk about the dark mysteries of the Hill and the war in Iraq but the trivial details of electoral stuff I have to look up or get others opinions on)

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Silas Sparkhammer
I Saw V-Chips Come Sailing In


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This is examined, in wonderful detail, in Jeff Greenfield's political novel, "The People's Choice." In the book, the nominee dies shortly *after* the election, before taking office.

It's educational...and also hilarious! (Oxen get gored on all sides of all current issues; the book isn't particularly biased toward any one ideology.)

Silas

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mizake the mizan
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
This is examined, in wonderful detail, in Jeff Greenfield's political novel, "The People's Choice." In the book, the nominee dies shortly *after* the election, before taking office.
That might be a vastly different situation, though. A change after the election would certainly be legally dictated. A change beforehand might be covered by election law, but might also be answered primarily by the elction/delegate policy of the party involved. If something happened to Kerry TODAY, the choice of running candidate would likely be a party, rather than legislateable, issue.
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Ursa Major
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Remember, the American people don't actually elect the President; they elect electors that do. If Kerry died, or was incapacitated, people could still vote for his ticket and the electors could caucus and come up with an alternate.
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I Am 6-Ironsman
Deck the Malls


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quote:
Originally posted by Ursa Major:
Remember, the American people don't actually elect the President; they elect electors that do. If Kerry died, or was incapacitated, people could still vote for his ticket and the electors could caucus and come up with an alternate.

Yes this is true. I wondered how procedurally this would work. To the best of my knowledge this has not happened in the modern era but it is an interesting question, especially if a candidate wins and then cannot take office. If for example, Kerry died next week, the worst case scenario is that theoretically one would just see "Democrat" in the voting booth if a new candidate was not picked and as Ursa properly said, voters are not really voting for Kerry per se, they are voting for electors on the Democratic ticket.
But take it to a more complicated situation, say Kerry wins the popular election, the Electoral College elects him President, and then he cannot take office. Edwards would not be the President-elect necessarily (as far as I know) though he could and probably would be named as such by the Democrats (Or am I wrong?) who would then select a new VP.
Would the Inauguration go as planned or would an act of Congress delay it if need be? Interesting question. The Constitution has been amended to state that the President is inaugurated on January 20th so at worst there would need to be some provisional stand-in, I guess.

Hopefully this an election issue we'll never have to sort out. 2000 was bad enough!

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talk2sparky
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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Interesting. I would imagine that it would be up to the party to make that decision. There is nothing in the Constitution regarding rules for running for President (apart from the 3 requirements to be President). I imagine they would probably have the VP run, but if there was enough time and the party didn't feel confidant with the VP winning, they could nominate a new candidate. Now would they need another convention? I would think so.

The closest example I can think of is in 1912, when Teddy Roosevelt was running as a third party candidate against the incumbant Taft and the Democrat Wilson. Roosevelt was shot at a rally, and couldn't campaign. He recovered before the election, but couldn't muster enough support for himself. It was still enough to split the Republican vote and Wilson won. I heard it speculated that if Roosevelt had not been shot, he might have had a good shot of winning. He was that popular with the people.

In senate races, it's a bit more common. John Ashcroft lost his bid for a Missouri Senate seat to the dead governor (I'm blanking on his name). His wife filled the seat for him. Here in Illinois, Jack Ryan had to withdraw from the race for, ahem, personal problems. The Illinois Republicans are trying to find a replacement candidate, even though Ryan won the primary election. (Interestingly, Ryan has yet to remove his name from the ballot and if he doesn't by Aug. 20, his name will appear on the ballot as the Republican candidate for Senate.)

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I Am 6-Ironsman
Deck the Malls


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quote:
Originally posted by talk2sparky:

In senate races, it's a bit more common. John Ashcroft lost his bid for a Missouri Senate seat to the dead governor (I'm blanking on his name). His wife filled the seat for him.

Mel Carnahan and his wife Jean.
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OTL
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by 6-Ironsman:
But take it to a more complicated situation, say Kerry wins the popular election, the Electoral College elects him President, and then he cannot take office. Edwards would not be the President-elect necessarily (as far as I know) though he could and probably would be named as such by the Democrats (Or am I wrong?) who would then select a new VP.

This looks to be covered (sort of) by Amendment XX, Section 3:

quote:
If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.
If Kerry were elected, and died before Jan. 20th, Edwards would (as VP Elect) become President. If Kerry couldn't take office for whatever other reason, Edwards would be an acting President, until a "real" President could be found. (Presumably, if the reasons Kerry couldn't assume office were no longer valid, he would probably become President at that point, although I don't know if Congress ever set up any procedure for that situation. If not... well, let's just say that if they needed to do so now under those conditions, it would probably be one ugly, ugly situation...)

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Jason Threadslayer
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by OTL:
If Kerry were elected, and died before Jan. 20th, Edwards would (as VP Elect) become President. If Kerry couldn't take office for whatever other reason, Edwards would be an acting President, until a "real" President could be found. (Presumably, if the reasons Kerry couldn't assume office were no longer valid, he would probably become President at that point, although I don't know if Congress ever set up any procedure for that situation.

Congress has provided by law for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified. The Presidential Succession Act (PDF) specifies the Speaker of the House becomes acting President until either the President or Vice President is able to take office.

After the Speaker of the House is the President pro tempore of the Senate followed by the Cabinet offices.

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Don Gato
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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Ironsman, correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like what you're asking is not how to replace a president or president-elect, but rather how to replace a nominee. I'd imagine in that case, it would be determined by party by-laws rather than the Constitution.

Although the end result would almost certainly be that the VP nominee would take over, the process for getting there could take different forms. If, for example, it happened before the convention, then the party could simply nominate the running mate. If it happened, say, a week before the election, we'd probably have a Carnahan-type situation, where voters would be encouraged to vote for the dead nominee, knowing that the running mate would assume office and appoint a new VP.

It's if tragedy were to strike somewhere in between that things could get tricky. Let's say Kerry's plane goes down in mid-September. There's plenty of time to remove his name from the ballot, and there's little doubt the party would turn to Edwards, but how would it go about formally adding his name? Maybe there's something in the party rules that specify the VP nominee automatically takes over for a deceased presidential nominee. Or maybe they would have to hold another convention.

The other interesting question is what would happen if the presumptive nominee died after winning enough primaries to lock up the nomination, but before being nominated or choosing a running mate? In that case, you'd probably have a good old-fashioned floor fight at the convention, with no clear favorite. If it had happened this year, for example, it would have likely been a contest between Edwards, Dean, Clark, Hillary and Gore.

All interesting stuff. And given that there have been incidents such as this in each of the last two election cycles, it's not too far-fetched to think it could happen again to a presidential candidate.

Don Gato

P.S. It's worth pointing out that there very nearly was a assassination of a president-elect: FDR in 1933. Can you imagine how history would have changed if Guiseppe Zangara hadn't missed?

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First of Two
The Bills of St. Mary's


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quote:
Originally posted by Don Gato:
Can you imagine how history would have changed if Guiseppe Zangara hadn't missed?

I can't, but other people have...

Eklund, Gordon. All Times Possible.
Divergence: 1933
Summary: A man from a timeline where the US went fascist after FDR's murder sets out to change the past and becomes dictator of Red America.
Published: DAW 1974.

or

Hite, Kenneth, Craig Neumeier, and Michael Schiffer. "Reich-5".
Divergence: 1933
What if: FDR was assassinated in 1933.
Summary: Germany wins WWII, the U.S. goes fascist, and the world goes to hell.
Published: In GURPS Alternate Earths

or

Graham, Otis L., Jr. "1933: What Would the 1930s Have Been Like Without Franklin Roosevelt?"
Divergences: 1932, 1933
What if: FDR was either not nominated for president in 1932 or died at the hands of Zangara the next spring.
Summary: Whether Newton Baker or John Nance Gardner had become president, the resulting fiscal policies would have been more conservative and there would have been no New Deal. However, there might well have arisen a new populist third party in the late 1930s as a result.
Published: In Borden and Graham's Speculations on American History

or

Norden, Eric. The Ultimate Solution.
Divergence: 1933
What if: FDR was assassinated in 1933.
Summary: Police-work in Nazi-occupied New York.
Published: Warner 1973 (0446751545).

And of course, the classic Philip K. Dick story, "The Man in the High Castle" had this as its divergence point as well.

all taken from Uchronia.net. Alternate History rules. [Big Grin]

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"Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for western civilization as it commits suicide." - Jerry Pournelle

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the Virgin Marrya
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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...and no-one said "Why, then he walks, or takes the bus..." ?

American politics.

I just don't get it [fish]

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