Poll Position: Should politicians who resign early help cover the cost of special elections?

Chip Rogers made news this week by announcing he was resigning his recently re-won Senate seat to take a job at Georgia Public Broadcasting. A special election for the seat will be held Jan. 8, just two months after Rogers’ replacement could have been elected in the general election had he stepped down earlier. Channel 2 Action News reports the special election will cost Cherokee and Fulton counties $500,000.

Should politicians who resign early help cover the cost of special elections?

  • Yes (203 Votes)
  • It depends on the circumstances of the resignation (166 Votes)
  • No, they should give their campaign funds back to their donors (39 Votes)
  • No, that's part of government and they should be able to use their campaign funds as they wish (27 Votes)

Total Voters: 435

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But that’s not all. Rep. Sean Jerguson, who like Rogers hails from Cherokee County, is resigning his House seat to run for the Senate post. So there will be a special election the same day to refill that seat. The two seats do not exactly overlap, so there will be some additional cost to Cherokee to hold a special election in the non-overlapping precincts.

And, for good measure, Sen. John Bulloch of Ochlocknee also announced this week he was stepping down before the 2013 legislative session starts, prompting a third special election that day in the eight southwest Georgia counties Bulloch served. (Well, it’s the third so far; it’s not out of the question that a House member could resign to run for that Senate seat and cause a fourth special election.)

Which raises a question: Should taxpayers get some help in covering the cost of special elections when politicians resign their offices early — from the politicians themselves? With the special election for Rogers’ seat alone costing $500,000, we surely are talking about millions of dollars in extra expenses for counties over the past two years.

By my count, these three special elections will bring the total since Jan. 1, 2011, to 17 (that figure is for state-level offices only; there may have been more if local races were included). One of those, the race for Senate District 30, was held on the same day as this year’s general election and thus didn’t represent an additional cost to the affected counties. But it, like eight of the other special elections, wasn’t settled without a runoff — representing even more costs to counties.

Two of the past 17 special elections were required because the elected official died in office; not much one can do about that. But eight of them were because the elected official took a job in state government; four elected officials resigned to run for another office; two moved out of their districts; and one (Bulloch) retired.

In some cases, the politicians resigned their offices left without no campaign funds left in their accounts or a negligible account. But a few of them had at least $10,000 in their accounts. Rogers ($231,033) and Bulloch ($105,967) had much more than that as of the latest report filed. To be fair, both of those reports were filed before the Nov. 6 election and may not reflect their final expenses; on the other hand, neither of them had general-election opponents, so it’s unlikely that they spent huge chunks of their war chests.

Should elected officials who resign their offices and prompt special elections be required to give their remaining campaign funds to counties to help cover the cost of those elections? That’s this week’s Poll Position question. Answer in the nearby poll and the comments thread below.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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243 comments Add your comment

catlady

December 7th, 2012
11:06 am

Absolutely. And the party that the person represneted (because they tend to vote the way their party tells them in Georgia, not represent the voters) should have to pay any leftover amount, OR the voters need to be able to take it out of the hide of the person who defrauded them.

Other than death or severe, new bad health, the money should be recouped!

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

December 7th, 2012
11:07 am

Yes! Charge them 75% of the remaining balance in their campaign accounts.

catlady

December 7th, 2012
11:08 am

BTW, new cheer for Chip: Paraphrasing the old University of Alabama cheer for Auburn coach Shug Jordan, “Chip, Chip, you are it! C H for Chip! I T for It!

catlady

December 7th, 2012
11:11 am

It’s called Taking Responsibility for What You Do!

RW-(the original)

December 7th, 2012
11:23 am

It would make more sense to look at the idiocy of holding special elections every time somebody steps down. There’s no reason an appointment couldn’t be made until the next scheduled election.

If you charge a % of the campaign fund balance it will only ensure there is no campaign fund balance.

Will

December 7th, 2012
11:27 am

It is disgusting when a politician runs for office and then switches parties after they are elected. Even more disgusting is when a politician runs for one office, gets elected, and then quits to run for another polticial office. But the most odious act of all is when a poltician is elected and then quits to go make more money, like that lady that was govenor of Alaska for a few months before quitting to make some money.

Maybe politicians, in addtion to paying a qualifying fee, should have to post some sort of a bond to be forfeited if the polticians quits for reasons like this.

Then again, I would never want to do anything that might stand in the way of getting rid of an odious poltician like Chip Rogers!!

catlady

December 7th, 2012
11:29 am

RW, or, make the “politician” personally liable for the debt, and his party for any remainder. Of course, old Chip would say “you KNEW I would not continue in office because I am being exposed as a crackpot, so you shouldn’t have elected me.” Parties might be more careful about the nuts they sponsor.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

December 7th, 2012
11:30 am

No, you are elected to do a job and if you can’t do it anymore it is up to the citizens to fill in the position, not the leaving politician. If you want them to pay for it then let them choose the replacement.

JamVet

December 7th, 2012
11:32 am

Hell no.

The last thing I want to do is to discourage losers like Rogers from leaving public office…

RW-(the original)

December 7th, 2012
11:33 am

catlady,

If we didn’t have nuts in elected office we’d have to live with the notion that sane people can make that many crazy decisions.

On balance I think it’s worth it anytime a politician resigns. I just call that a good start.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

December 7th, 2012
11:33 am

Want more on the Harry Reid BEAT DOWN of Mitch McConnell yesterday?

http://www.alternet.org/election-2012/dems-look-wonder-mitch-mcconnell-filibusters-his-own-proposal

some embarrassing stuff for the Kentuckian. Eat turtle, turtle face.

CC

December 7th, 2012
11:34 am

It depends on the reason for resigning. Certainly illness of the office holder or in the immediate family would be one of several justifiable reasons for resigning.

On the other hand, should a dimocrat choose to resign, no matter what the reason, and a conservative had a decent shot at the office, I would contribute money to help pay the election costs!

@@

December 7th, 2012
11:38 am

If you charge a % of the campaign fund balance it will only ensure there is no campaign fund balance.

RW has a grasp on human behavior. Obama and the dems? Not so much.

I have no respect for candidates who make a committment, then voluntarily bail on those who put them in office.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

December 7th, 2012
11:39 am

What Kyle is worried about is these Republican quitters leaving their jobs in the middle of a term and leaving the citizens in the lurch – see Palin, Sarah and, more recently, DeMint, Spear (or is that Jim?)

These quitters leave a bad taste in some voter’s mouths.

Moquiqui

December 7th, 2012
11:39 am

Or just avoid a special election altogether and let the governor appoint a temporary replacement, similar to the process where a U.S. senator or representative is replaced mid-term.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

December 7th, 2012
11:39 am

John Q, this thread isn’t even half a page old. Please try to follow Kyle’s rules and stick to the subject, OK?

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

December 7th, 2012
11:41 am

RW, you forget that at some point, these politicians might just want to get back into office someday.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

December 7th, 2012
11:42 am

McConnell should step down after his act yesterday. You know the old joke about what follows after a redneck says “Ya’ll watch this…”?

McConnell yesterday: “Ya’ll watch this…”

RW-(the original)

December 7th, 2012
11:45 am

RW, you forget that at some point, these politicians might just want to get back into office someday.

Tibs,

What’s that got to do with anything I said?

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

December 7th, 2012
11:51 am

Finn, in case you missed it (and of course you did), Harry Reid called for “unanimous consent” on the President’s plan, NOT a regular vote.

Nice try, but at some point, you’re really going to have to use some sources that actually know what is going on in the world, and not salon.com or alternet.

Tom(Independent Viet Vet-USAF)

December 7th, 2012
11:52 am

Finn – Nice comment, I guess you forgot about the famous or infamous Calif liberal who said ” we have to pass this bill before we find out what is in it”?

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

December 7th, 2012
11:53 am

RW, this: “If you charge a % of the campaign fund balance it will only ensure there is no campaign fund balance.”

@@

December 7th, 2012
11:55 am

Barack Obama’s Senate career didn’t last long — about 46 months.

Just long enough to mount a 21-month campaign to move on to bigger digs.

All that after winning through manipulative tactics….having his opponents removed from the ballot.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

December 7th, 2012
11:58 am

we have to pass this bill before we find out what is in it”?

That’s a mis-quote.

Actual quote, referring to us citizens: “But we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.”

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/n/nancy_pelosi.html#U0rpJ7vqBtKMIrzq.99

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

December 7th, 2012
12:00 pm

after winning through manipulative tactics

Election’s been over for a month. Put those hankies away.

Dusty

December 7th, 2012
12:01 pm

RW,

So good to have you here. I hope it is permanent

.Your suggestion was good. Skip the special elections and use appointees until the next regular election time. That’s practical and thrifty.

MANGLER

December 7th, 2012
12:02 pm

Yes, they and their party should pay the full cost for a special election. They are elected on platforms that people vote for and send donations to support. To change your mind at any point before your replacement can be voted in is dereliction of duty and a violation of public trust, period.

I also feel that changing party affiliations should be banned until election time. A change of heart can happen, and if it does happen the politician can be vocal about it but needs to maintain the promises made to the constituency for that election. Considering the games politicians play, it’s all to easy to assume it was a designed event when one changes affiliation or steps down for something else.

RW-(the original)

December 7th, 2012
12:02 pm

Tibs,

I guess you’re trying to make the claim that they have no path back to office without a previously banked campaign fund and I strongly disagree. Most campaigns for initial office begin without a fund and a return by a previous office holder would be more successful if the claim could be made that “the people” were clamoring for that return and pledging money. If the politician just said the thing they left for didn’t work out so they were coming back using all this cash they stored from the first time they ran out I don’t think they’d have much luck.

Anyway, it looks like you have some ongoing battle here to deal with so I’ll step out of the way and let you get back to that.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

December 7th, 2012
12:03 pm

“Actual quote, referring to us citizens: “But we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.”

So according to Pelosi and Finn, us citizens are incapable of finding out and understanding what is in a bill before passage . . . .

Riiiiight.

The sanctimony is a bit thick today.

jd

December 7th, 2012
12:03 pm

Kyle — the election for SD 30 was a “primary” election — necessitating a runoff to determine the Republican nominee before the “general” election to be held after the new year. So, the SD 30 election does cost the taxpayer $$$ as the primary ballot is separate from the general.

Now, this brings us to the real question. Why should taxpayers foot the bill for private organizations, which the political parties are, to determine their nominees. We, the taxpayers, should fund one election. Period. If parties want to pick a nominee — let them pay for the process. And, eliminate runoffs by allowing voters to signal their first and second choices.

Time to bring efficiency to the process… we can’t afford this nonsense

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

December 7th, 2012
12:05 pm

Tiberius, you might have to sit down after reading this, from the ultra left wing, sheep, white-house talking points web site known as Salon.com:

Yes, unemployment is down slightly and 146,000 new jobs were created in November. That’s some progress. But don’t be blinded by the hype coming out of Wall Street and the White House, both of which want the public to believe everything is going wonderfully well.

The fact is some 350,000 more people stopped looking for jobs in November, and the percent of the working-age population in jobs continues to drop — now at 63.6%, almost the lowest in 30 years. Meanwhile, the average workweek is stuck at 34.4 hours.

Man, that sure is some party line towing if I’ve ever seen it!

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

December 7th, 2012
12:06 pm

“I guess you’re trying to make the claim that they have no path back to office without a previously banked campaign fund and I strongly disagree. ”

No, I’m merely making the case that politicians will not make a move without leaving the door open to a return to power, and that it would be easier for them to have a ready-made primed pump of campaign cash waiting for that possibility.

I’m not saying it is right or wrong, but merely that it is what it is.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

December 7th, 2012
12:06 pm

I’m with RDubya on this one, can the special election and let Deal seat the next officeholder. It would be a Repug anyway, they’re not weird enough to elect a democrat in Cherokee.

Anyway, what about a politician that gets elected and then leaves it to his lunatic Congress to govern while he golfs, plays b ball, vacations in exotic places and runs a perpetual campaign on the tax payers dime?

Who should reimburse us for this travesty?

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

December 7th, 2012
12:07 pm

Tiberius and John Q, you two need to get a room. This love-fest has been going on for several days now.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

December 7th, 2012
12:09 pm

It’s a good thing we are relatively anonymous on this blog, otherwise John Q would be at my front door stalking me and I’d ave to get a restraining order on him.

Once again, I don’t swing that way, fella.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

December 7th, 2012
12:11 pm

Who should reimburse us for this travesty?

You get to bask in the Obama glow just like the rest of us. Quit being greedy…

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

December 7th, 2012
12:13 pm

FTD has asked that you two bundle your flower orders so they don’t have to keep delivering to the same two addresses several times a day.

ohohoh

RW-(the original)

December 7th, 2012
12:17 pm

I’m not saying it is right or wrong, but merely that it is what it is.

And what I said from the jump was that it wouldn’t be that way anymore if you had a large % penalty hanging over that slush fund. I think you’ve spent so much time arguing with libs you’ve started arguing like one.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hiya Dusty and @@,

Good to “see” you both and hopefully we can catch up over the weekend.

Later all

@@

December 7th, 2012
12:22 pm

Election’s been over for a month. Put those hankies away.

Finn:

My comment had nothing to do with the November 2012 elections. Those manipulative tactics occurred during his initial foray into politics. Prior to that his community organizing left something to be desired, wouldn’t you agree?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-kjEMcBol4

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

December 7th, 2012
12:23 pm

“Literally, he’s been the most invisible former president in, like, ever. That couldn’t have anything to do with the bang-up job he did as POTUS, could it?”

No, it’s likely that he is one of but a handful of former Presidents who actually respects the office (as opposed to the current holder) and does what both beloved and reviled former Presidents do – retire from the public limelight and let their successor(s) have their time.

In fact, there are only two former Presidents who can’t seem to keep their traps shut following their term of office; Carter and Clinton – both Democrats. I have no doubt that when President Incompetent is gone in 2017, he’ll be unable to follow the courtesy every President but the other two have afforded their successors, either.

MANGLER

December 7th, 2012
12:30 pm

Apparently y’all should be over on the blogs at creative loafing, fenuxe, or Out. There are political blogs you’d feel pretty comfy with over there.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

December 7th, 2012
12:34 pm

Michigan becomes a right-to-work state:

http://news.yahoo.com/mich-legislators-defy-unions-ok-080330124–finance.html

Elections have consequences. While the lunatics run the asylum in Washington, sanity breaks out in state after state.

JamVet

December 7th, 2012
1:07 pm

Riiiiight.

W’s “respect for the office” (LOL) is why nobody in the GOP will even mention his name and why he has gone further underground that Saddam did.

The fact that his legacy is toxic has nothing at all to do with it…

Streetracer

December 7th, 2012
1:22 pm

I voted “YES” because anyone who runs for office makes a commitment to fulfill that term in office. On the other hand, I wouldn’t be opposed to leaving the office vacent until the next general election, because we have way to many politicians trying to run our lives now.

Beyond The Middle of the Road

December 7th, 2012
1:23 pm

Gee, good question, never really gave this much thought. Depending on the circumstances it would certainly seem reasonable that they should cover a share of the cost — especially if they still have funds in their campaign coffers.

Logical Dude

December 7th, 2012
1:23 pm

No, I don’t think politicians should cover the re-election costs. They shame from the electorate should be enough (well, except for here in Georgia where a similar idiot candidate will be elected.)
Although, from a candidate perspective, they can say they left on their own terms (for those who did). I also feel it’s bad form for any of these candidates to make a run for office, important for the state/country/community, and then suddenly say “wait, no, I’m outta here.”
Anyone leaving office for personal reasons should also not need to repay. This opens a loophole for anyone to leave office by saying they need to spend more time with family. So, although the “make ‘em pay!!!” mentality is satisfying, I just don’t see it working in reality.

Lil' Barry Bailout - OBAMAPHONE!!!

December 7th, 2012
1:24 pm

No. The spot should be filled by appointment until the next scheduled election.

TBone

December 7th, 2012
1:43 pm

Heck I’d just like to politicians remove their damn signs from every vacant corner and lot,before the new year, and I bet they ran on that protect the environment line?!?!

@@

December 7th, 2012
1:52 pm

When did Chuck Norris, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Roger Ailes and Glenn Beck run for office?

After answering that, please bring forth evidence where any of the remaining set out to have opponents removed from the ballot prior to the election.

I’m all @@s (eyes).

========================

Oops!

Hello RW. I’m never here during the weekend. Hopefully I’ll catch you on your next drive-by, although I’m not around much these days. Outside interests prevail.

@@

December 7th, 2012
1:56 pm

John Q – lovin’ livin’ in the Obama boom (which is picking up steam every day)!!!

Alot of things pick up steam.Everytime I read ^^^ that, I can’t help but visualize a “steaming pile”.

Nothing personal, mind you.