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Kentucky’s Democrat governor refuses to say whether he will follow state law and appoint a Republican, should McConnell resign

 September 3, 2023

Kentucky's Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear remained noncommittal when quizzed about whether he would appoint a Republican to follow in the footsteps of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) should the Republican leader vacate his position due to health concerns, as Fox News reported.

On Thursday, when questioned about the possibility of a Senate vacancy should the 81-year-old McConnell not finish his term, Beshear declined to entertain such speculation.

Beshear stated, "There is no Senate vacancy. Sen. 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."

Concerns Around McConnell's Health

The health of McConnell is once again a topic of conversation after he unexpectedly paused for an extended period during a recent press interaction in Covington, Kentucky.

This is the second such occurrence involving the senator, following an incident earlier in the year where he fell and subsequently needed hospitalization.

These incidents have sparked concerns regarding McConnell's capacity to remain as the GOP leader and have led to discussions about a potential resignation from the Senate.

Following the July incident, McConnell affirmed his intention to serve out his term, which concludes in 2026, by which time he will be 84 years of age.

When further probed about the situation, Gov. Beshear responded, " I respect Sen. McConnell and his health enough, first of all, not to sensationalize it and, second, there is no vacancy. So he has said he's going to serve out his term, and I fully believe him."

Legislation Surrounding Vacancies

In 2021, despite Beshear's opposition, the predominantly GOP-led state legislature enacted a bill that curtailed the governor's powers to fill congressional vacancies unilaterally.

According to the new law, if a senator leaves office due to "death, resignation or expulsion," the Seventeenth Amendment "allows state legislatures to empower the governor to appoint a replacement to complete the term or to hold office until a special election can take place," as The Hill reported.

Previously, the power rested solely with the governor to designate a replacement for any vacant Senate position until the succeeding midterm elections, held biennially.

In 2021, while vetoing the bill, Beshear expressed his reservations, stating that it "improperly and unconstitutionally" restricts his power to fill Senate vacancies.

He said the law "upends a century of precedent by delegating the power to select the representative of all Kentuckians to an unelected, unaccountable committee of an organization that represents only a fraction of Kentuckians."

In the latest update, after a comprehensive assessment following the recent episode, McConnell received the green light from his medical team to resume his duties.

Dr. Brian Monahan, Congress' attending physician, consulted with Leader McConnell and his neurology team.

After assessing, he confirmed that McConnell is medically fit to proceed with his planned schedule.

Dr. Monahan stated, "Occasional lightheadedness is not uncommon in concussion recovery and can also be expected as a result of dehydration."