Vacancies and Special Elections: 107th Congress
CRS Report for Congress
Vacancies and Special Elections:
Sula P. Richardson
Analyst in American National Government
Government and Finance Division
There were eleven vacancies in the 107th Congress—ten in the House and one in the
Senate. Of the ten House vacancies, five were caused by death of these incumbents: Julian
Dixon (32nd District of California), Patsy Mink (2nd District of Hawaii), John Joseph
Moakley (9th District of Massachusetts), Norman Sisisky (4th District of Virginia), and
Floyd Spence (2nd District of South Carolina). Four vacancies were caused by resignation
of these incumbents: Bud Shuster (9th District of Pennsylvania), Joe Scarborough (1st
District of Florida), Asa Hutchinson (3rd District of Arkansas) and Steve Largent (1st
District of Oklahoma). The remaining House vacancy was caused by expulsion of James
A. Traficant, Jr., on July 24, 2002. The sole Senate vacancy was caused by the death of
Senator Paul Wellstone (of Minnesota) who was killed in a plane crash on October 25,
Procedure for Filling Vacancies in Congress
Vacancies in Congress occur when a Senator or Representative dies, resigns, declines
to serve, or is expelled or excluded by either house. The Constitution requires that
vacancies in both houses be filled by special election; but in the case of the Senate, it
empowers the state legislatures to provide for temporary appointments to the Senate by
the governor until special elections can be scheduled.1
Senate. Prevailing practice for Senate vacancies is for state governors to fill them
by appointment, with the appointee serving until a special election can be held. The
winner of the special election then serves for the balance of the term. In the event the seat
becomes vacant between the time of a statewide election and the expiration of the term,
the appointee usually serves the remainder of the term. Oregon and Wisconsin are the
only states that do not provide for gubernatorial appointments; their Senate vacancies can
only be filled by election.
House of Representatives. All House vacancies are filled by special election.
Scheduling for special elections is largely dependent on the amount of time remaining
1 For House vacancies, see U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 2, clause 4, and (2 U.S.C.8). For
Senate vacancies, see U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 3, and Amendment 17, paragraph 2.
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
before the next regular elections for the House. When a vacancy occurs during the first
session of Congress, a special election is always scheduled for the earliest possible time,
preferably to coincide with elections regularly scheduled for other purposes in the district.
If, however, a seat becomes vacant within 6 months of the end of a Congress, some
states hold a special election for the balance of the congressional term on the same day
as the regular election. Winners of special elections in these cases are sometimes not
sworn in immediately as Members of the House, Congress having often adjourned sine
die before election day. They are, however, accorded the status of incumbent
Representatives for the purposes of seniority, office selection, and staffing. Other states
do not provide for a special election in these circumstances, and the seat remains vacant
for the balance of that particular Congress.
For additional information, see CRS Report 97-1009, House and Senate Vacancies:
How Are They Filled?, by Sula P. Richardson and Thomas H. Neale.
Table 1. Special Elections in the U.S. House of Representatives: 107th Congress (2001-2002)
Cause and date of vacancyCandidates (party)
State-DistrictIncumbent (party)(winner in bold type)Date electedDate sworn inCauseDate
AR- 3rd Asa Hutchinson (R)ResignedAug. 6, 2001John Boozman (R) aNov. 20, 2001aNov. 29, 2001
Mike Hathorn (D)
CA- 32nd bJulian C. Dixon (D) cDeathDec. 8, 2000Diane E. Watson (D)June 5, 2001June 7, 2001
Donna J. Warren (G)
Noel Irwin Hentschel (R)
Ezola Foster (Ref)
FL- 1st Joe Scarborough (R)ResignedSept. 5, 2001dJeff Miller (R)Oct. 16, 2001Oct. 23, 2001
Steve Briese (D)
HAPatsy Mink (D)DiedSept. 28, 2002Ed Case (D) eNov. 30, 2002e
John F. Mink (D)
MA- 9th eJohn Joseph Moakley (D)DeathMay 28, 2001Stephen F. Lynch (D)Oct. 16, 2001Oct. 23, 2001
JoAnn Sprague (R)th
iki/CRS-RS20814OH- 17 James A. Traficant, Jr. (D)ExpulsionJuly 24, 2002fff
g/wOK- 1st Steve Largent (R)ResignedFeb. 15, 2002gJohn Sullivan (R)Jan. 8, 2002gFeb. 27, 2001
s.orDoug Dodd (D)
leakNeil Mavis (I)David Fares (I)
://wikiPA- 9th hBud Shuster (R)ResignedFeb. 2, 2001William (Bill) Shuster (R) hH. Scott Conklin (D)May 15, 2001May 17, 2001
httpAlanna K. Hartzok (G)
SC- 2nd Floyd Spence (R)DeathAug. 16, 2001Addison “Joe” G. Wilson (R)Dec. 18, 2001iDec. 19, 2001
Brent Weaver (D)th
VA- 4 Norman Sisisky (D)DeathMar. 29, 2001J. Randy Forbes (R)June 19, 2001June 26, 2001
L. Louise Lucas (D)
rkansas, Rep. Asa Hutchinson resigned from the House on Aug. 6, 2001, having been appointed Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). A special primary election was held on
Sept. 25, 2001. Because no candidate received 50% of the votes, a runoff primary was held on Oct. 16, 2001, between Republican candidates John Boozman and Gunner DeLay and Democratic
candidates Mike Hathorn and Jo Ellen Carson. In the special general election held on Nov. 20, 2001, John Boozman defeated Mike Hathorn.
alifornia, for the special open primary election, which was held on Apr. 10, 2001, the names of 16 candidates (regardless of party) appeared on a single ballot and voters could choose any party
candidate. A candidate who received a majority of the votes would have been elected to the office. Because no candidate received a majority of the votes, a special runoff general election was
held on June 5, 2001, and the name of the top vote-getter from each party in the Apr. 10, 2001 election was on the June 5, 2001 ballot.
p. Dixon died before the commencement of the 107th Congress, to which he had been reelected.
ida, Rep. Joe Scarborough resigned from the House effective close of business on Sept. 5, 2001. Steve Briese (D) and Jeff Miller (R) competed in a special general election on Oct. 16, 2001.
awaii, for the special election which was held on Nov. 30, 2002, the candidates were John F. Mink (husband of the late Rep. Patsy Mink) and thirty-seven other persons: Whitney T. Anderson (R),
John L. Baker (D), Walter R. Barnes (R), Paul Britos (D), John S. Carroll, Ed Case (D), Brian G. Cole (D), Dan A. Cole (N), Chas Collins (D), Joe Conner (R), Lawrence (Lehr) DuQuesnes (L),,
Doug Fairhurst (R), Michael Gagne (D), Carolyn Martinez Golojuch (R), G. (limz) Goodwin (G), Richard H. Haake (R), S.J. Harlan (N), Lillian Lai Lam Wang Hong (N), Ron (Whodaguy) Jacobs
(N), Kekoa D. Kaapu (D), Kimo Kaloi (R), Jeff Mallan (L), Robert M. Martin Jr. (N), John Mayer (N), Mark McNett (N), Soloman Naluai (D), Nick Mikhilanada (G), John Parker (N), Joseph
(Papa Joe) Payne (R), John (Jack) Randall (N), Mike Rethman (N), Art P. Reyes (D), Clifford P. Rhodes (R), Bill Russell (N), Bob Schieve (R), Steve Tataii (D), and Timmy Yuen (R). The winnerth
of the election—Ed Case—served for the remainder of 107 Congress but was not sworn in, as Congress was not in session. The late Rep. Patsy Mink’s name remained on the general electionthth
ballot for the 108 Congress, and she was re-elected posthumously to the 108 Congress. Mr. Case was also elected in the special election ( held on Jan. 4, 2003) to fill that vacancy.
ssachusetts, a special primary election was held on Sept. 11, 2001. Stephen F. Lynch (D) and JoAnn Sprague (R) competed in a special general election on Oct. 16, 2001.
hio, Rep. Traficant was expelled from the House (pursuant to H. Res. 495) on July 24, 2002. The seat formerly held by Mr. Traficant remained vacant for the remainder of the 107th Congress.
klahoma, John Sullivan was elected on Jan. 8, 2002in anticipation of the vacancy caused by the resignation of Rep. Steve Largent, effective Feb. 15, 2002.
ennsylvania, Bill Shuster was elected to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of his father, Bud Shuster, and took his seat on May 17, 2001.
arolina, a special primary election was held on Oct. 30, 2001 and a special general election was held on Dec. 18, 2001 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Rep. Floyd Spence.
Abbreviations for Party Affiliation:
iki/CRS-RS20814 DemocratFree Energy
://wikiNonpartisan Special Independent
Table 2. Vacancies, Appointments, and Special Elections in the U.S. Senate: 107th Congress (2001-1002)
Cause and date of vacancyDate appointed
StateIncumbent (party)Successor (party)or electedDate sworn inCauseDate
MNPaul Wellstone (D)DeathOct. 25, 2002Dean Barkley (I)Nov. 4, 2002 aNov. 12, 2002
sota, Senator Paul Wellstone was killed in a plane crash on October 25, 2002. (Senator Wellstone’s term would have expired on Jan. 3, 2003. He was however, running for reelection and
if successful would have been elected to the 6-year term which began on Jan. 3, 2003.) On November 4, 2002, Governor Jesse Ventura appointed Dean Barkley (I) to fill the unexpired term ofthth
the late Sen. Wellstone (107 Congress). On November 5, 2002, Norm Coleman (R) was elected to represent Minnesota for the 6-year term thatwould begin on Jan. 3, 2003 (108 Congress).