Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller's staff has provided no updates on his condition following his return to Little Rock Saturday from Seattle where two bone marrow transplants failed to correct a cancer-causing blood condition. But multiple sources tell us that he is hospitalized at UAMS in grave condition, his circumstances complicated by pneumonia. They also tell us he's been calm and resolute, as he has been throughout a battle that always posed difficult odds.
Rockefeller's condition has prompted the inevitable questions about vacancies in the office. State law provides that a vacancy in the office must be filled by special election, as has happened twice in recent years. But in both cases, that of Mike Huckabee in 1993 and Rockefeller himself in 1996, two years remained in the terms of office. Rockefeller's term ends this year.
The procedure for arriving at nominations for a special election is time-consuming and must include time for an independent to gather signatures to qualify for the ballot. The governor sets the timetable. One solution in a case with scant time remaining in a term would be for parties to choose their current nominees by convention as candidates in the special election and set it the same date as the general election. Another solution might be to let the office stand vacant. The primary duty of the post is to preside over the Senate, which isn't to meet until next year and, even then, a president pro tempore is available to serve in the lieutenant governor's place. The best resolution, of course, would be Rockefeller's recuperation and return to the office for the remainder of the term.
See the jump for the governing statute on vacancies in the office.
Nominees for election at a special election called for the purpose of filling a vacancy in office for a member of the United States House of Representatives, for Lieutenant Governor, or as a member of the Senate or House of Representatives of the General Assembly shall be chosen as follows: (1)(A) Whenever a vacancy shall exist in any of the aforementioned offices, the Governor shall certify in writing to the state committees of the respective political parties the fact of vacancy and shall request the respective state committees to make a determination and notify him in writing within ten (10) days with respect to whether the political parties desire to hold a special primary election to choose a nominee of each party as a candidate for election to the office in which the vacancy exists.
(B) If the state committee of any political party shall notify the Governor within the time provided in subdivision (1)(A) of this section of its request to hold a special primary election, it shall be mandatory that any political party desiring to choose a nominee for election to the office in which the vacancy exists shall choose the nominee at a special primary election.
(C) In issuing the proclamation calling for a special election to fill the vacancy in office, the Governor shall also specify the date on which the special primary elections shall be held and the date on which a runoff primary election shall be held in the event that a candidate does not receive a majority vote. The proclamation of the Governor shall also establish the deadline for filing as a candidate for nomination, which deadline shall allow at least ten (10) days in which candidates may file for nomination.
(D)(i) The date of the special primary election shall be at least thirty (30) days but no more than sixty (60) days subsequent to the date fixed as a deadline for qualifying as a candidate for nomination. This date shall be at least ten (10) days prior to the date fixed in the proclamation for holding the special election to fill the vacancy in office.
(ii)(a) The special primary election shall occur on the second Tuesday of any month, except as provided in subdivision (1)(D)(ii)(b) of this section.
Special primary elections held in months in which a presidential preferential primary election, preferential primary election, general primary election, or general election is scheduled to occur shall be held on the date of the presidential preferential primary election, preferential primary election, general primary election, or general election.
(2) Special primary elections scheduled to occur in a month in which the second Tuesday is a legal holiday shall be held on the third Tuesday of the month.
(E) Certificates of nomination of persons nominated at a special primary election shall be filed with, and the filing fees paid to, the appropriate official at least seven (7) days prior to the date for holding the special election to fill the vacancy in office;
(2) Any person desiring to be a candidate for office as an independent candidate without political party affiliation may file nomination petitions signed by not less than three percent (3%) of the qualified electors of the district or of the state, as the case may be, as determined by the total number of votes cast in the last-preceding general election for all candidates for the office of Governor, but in no event shall more than two thousand (2,000) signatures be requi
(3) If the state committee of any political party fails to notify the Governor within the time provided in subdivision (1)(A) of this section of the desire to hold a special primary election to choose a nominee of that political party as a candidate for election to fill the vacancy in office, or if the state committee of any political party timely notifies the Governor of the desire not to hold a primary election, the Governor shall, in issuing his proclamation calling for the special election, fix a deadline for filing as a nominee for election at the special election. In that event, nominations may be made upon certification of the chairman or secretary of a convention of delegates of a political party called and held in accordance with the rules of the party.
History. Acts 1969, No. 465, Art. 1, § 5; 1971, No. 261, § 3; 1972 (Ex. Sess.), No. 42, § 1; 1975, No. 700, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, § 3-105; Acts 1987, No. 248, § 1; 1993, No. 512, § 8; 1997, No. 1082, § 2; 2005, No. 2145, § 13.