NEW: Bill would have future vacant US Senate seats filled by election

12/12/2012 4:08 PM

12/12/2012 4:26 PM

Future U.S. Senate vacancies would be filled with a special election, not by gubernatorial appointment, under a bill filed Wednesday.

“This proposed legislation is not intended in any way as a criticism of Gov. (Nikki) Haley or any of the outstanding leaders she is apparently considering for appointment to the U.S. Senate,” said state Rep. Rick Quinn, a Lexington Republican who introduced the bill. “My concern is the lack of public involvement in the process of selecting a person.”

The governor can appoint a senator who can serve for up to two years before an election, enough time to get a head start on raising money with all the attention from the seat.

U.S. House vacancies are filled with a special election within 18 weeks. Senate vacancies would filled the same way under Quinn’s bill. He is introducing a second bill that allows the governor to appoint a temporary replacement until the special election.

“Any way we fill those vacancies will have flaws,” Quinn said. “ But we must not dilute the people’s right to choose their representation at the ballot box."

Haley is choosing a successor for U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, who resigned last week to head the Heritage Foundation. A special election is scheduled for 2014 for the final two year's of DeMint's term.

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