Vacancies and Special Elections: 108th Congress
CRS Report for Congress
Vacancies and Special Elections:
Sula P. Richardson
Analyst in American National Government
Government and Finance Division
There were seven vacancies in the 108th Congress, all in the House. One, in the 2nd
District of Hawaii, was caused by the death of the incumbent, who had been re-elected
posthumously to the 108th Congress. Five other vacancies were caused by thethth
resignation of the incumbent in the 19 District of Texas, the 6 District of Kentucky,
the at-large district of South Dakota, the 1st District of North Carolina, and the 1stth
District of Nebraska. The seventh vacancy, in the 5 District of California, was caused
by the death of the incumbent three days before the 109th Congress, to which he had
been reelected, convened. The first vacancy was filled by special election on January 4,
Report RS20814, Vacancies and Special Elections: 107 Congress. The second
vacancy was filled by special election on June 3, 2003. The third vacancy was filled by
special election on February 17, 2004. The fourth vacancy was filled by special election
on June 1, 2004. The fifth vacancy was filled by special election on July 20, 2004. Thestth
vacancy in the 1 District of Nebraska continued throughout the remainder of the 108
Congress. A special primary election to fill the vacancy in the 5th District of Californiath
for the 109 Congress will be held on March 8, 2005. If no candidate receives a
majority of votes, a special runoff election will be held on May 3, 2005. This report
records vacancies in the offices of U.S. Representative and Senator that occurred during
the 108th Congress. It provides information on the former incumbents, the process by
which these vacancies are filled, and the names of Members who filled the vacant seats.
This report will not be updated. For additional information, see CRS Report 97-1009,
House and Senate Vacancies: How Are They Filled?
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
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
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 that 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 upon the amount of time remaining
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 six 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.
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.
Table 1. Special Elections in the U.S. House of Representatives: 108th Congress (2003-2004)
State-DistrictIncumbent (party)Cause and date of vacancyCandidates (party) (winner in bold type)Date electedDate sworn inCauseDate
CA — aRobert T. Matsui (D)deathJan. 1, 2005aaa
HI — 2nd bPatsy Mink (D)deathSept. 28, 2002Ed Case (D) bJan. 4, 2003 bJan. 7, 2003
KY — 6th cErnie Fletcher (R)resignationDec. 9, 2003Albert Benjamin “Ben”cFeb. 17, 2004Feb. 24, 2004
Chandler III (D)
Alice Forgy Kerr (R)
Mark Gailey (L)
NE — 1st Doug Bereuter (R)resignationAug. 31, 2004ddd
NC — 1st e Frank Ballance (D)resignationJune 11, 2004G.K. Butterfield (D)July 20, 2004 July 21, 2004
Greg Dority (R)
Tom Eisenmenger (L)
SD — AL fWilliam Janklow (R)resignationJan. 20, 2004Stephanie Herseth (D)June 1, 2004June 3, 2004
Larry Diedrich (R)
TX — 19th gLarry Combest (R)resignationMay 31, 2003Randy Neugebauer (R) ggJune 3, 2003 gJune 5, 2003
Mike Conaway (R)
iki/CRS-RS21539California, Rep. Robert T. Matsui died on Jan. 1, 2005, three days before the convening of the 109th Congress, to which he had been reelected. A special primary election to fill the vacancy will be
g/wheld on Mar. 8, 2005. The names of all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, will appear on the March ballot. If no candidate receives a majority of votes, the top vote-getters from each party
s.orwill advance to a special runoff election on May 3, 2005.
ree days before the 108 Congress convened on January 7, 2003, a special election was held to fill the vacancy caused during the 107 Congress by the death of Rep. Patsy Mink, who had been re-thth
://wikielected posthumously to the 108 Congress. (Rep. Patsy Mink died two days after the deadline for replacing her name on the ballot for re-election to the 108 Congress.) On January 4, 2003,Ed Case defeated 43 other candidates in a special election to fill that vacancy. The other candidates in the open special election were: Kabba Anand (N), Whitney T. Anderson, Paul Britos (D),
httpJohn S. (Mahina) Carroll (R), Brian G. Cole (D), Charles (Lucky) Collins (D), Doug Fairhurst (R), Frank F. Fasi (R), Michael Gagne (D), Alan Gano (N), Carolyn Martinez Golojuch (R), G.
Goodwin (G), Richard H. Haake (R), Chris Halford (R), Colleen Hanabusa (D), S. J. Harlan (N), Herbert Jensen (D), Kekoa D. Kaapu (D), Moana Keaulana-Dyball (N), Kimo Kaloi (R), Jeff Mallan
(L), Barbara C. Marumoto (R), Sophie Mataafa (N), Matt Matsunaga (D), Bob McDermott (R), Mark McNett (N), Nick Nikhilananda (G), Richard (Rich)Payne (R), John (Jack) Randall (N), Jim
Rath (R), Mike Rethman (N), Art P. Reyes (D), Pat Rocco (D), Bartle Lee Rowland (N), Bill Russell (N), John L. Sabey (R), Nelson J. Secretario (R), Steve Sparks (N), Steve Tataii (D), Marshall
(Koo Koo) Turner (N), Dan Vierra (N), Clarence H. Weatherwax (R), and Solomon (Kolomona) Wong (N). Prior to winning the January 4, 2003 special election, Mr. Case had also won the specialthth
election that had been held on November 30, 2002, to fill the remainder of Rep. Mink’s term for the 107 Congress. He was not sworn in, however, as the 107 Congress was not in session. thth
(For further information on the 107 Congress vacancy and special election see CRS Report RS20814, Vacancies and Special Elections: 107 Congress.)
tucky, Rep. Ernie Fletcher resigned from the House on December 9, 2003, and was sworn in as Governor of Kentucky. A special election to fill the vacancy caused by Rep. Fletcher’s resignation
was held on February 17, 2004, at which time the House was in recess until Feb. 24, 2004. Representative Albert Benjamin “Ben” Chandler was sworn in on Feb. 24, 2004.
raska, no special election was held to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Doug Bereuter, who resigned from the House on Aug. 31, 2004. The vacancy continued throughout the remainder of the 108th
rth Carolina, a special election to fill the vacancy in the 1st congressional district was held on July 20, 2004, to coincide with the state’s primary elections.
uth Dakota, a special election to fill the vacancy in the at-large district was held on June 1, 2004, to coincide with the state’s primary elections.
exas for the special election, which was held on May 3, 2003, the names of 17 candidates (regardless of party) appeared on a single ballot and the voters could choose any of these candidates: Richard
Bartlett (R), John D. Bell (R), Jamie Berryhill (R) William M. (Bill) Christian (R), Mike Conaway (R), Thomas Flournoy (C), Kaye Gaddy (D), E.L. “Ed” Hicks (I), Carl H. Isett (R), David R.
Langston (D), Donald May (R), Randy Neugebauer (R), Julia Penelope (G), Richard (Chip) Peterson (L), Jerri Simmons-Asmussen (D), Vickie Sutton (R), and Stace Williams (R). 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 election was held on June 3, 2003, and the names
of the two top vote getters were on that ballot.
Key to Abbreviations for Party Affiliation
C Constitution D Demo cratic G Green I Independent