Goss Seat to Stay Vacant Until January

Posted September 24, 2004 at 5:30pm

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) has decided against holding a special election to fill the vacancy left by Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.), the newly confirmed CIA director, a spokeswoman said Thursday.

“The governor will not call a special election to fill the vacancy,” said Jill Bratina, a Bush spokeswoman.

The decision means that House Republican leaders will be unable to swear in a successor to Goss during the lame-duck session that is expected to follow the Nov. 2 election. That, in turn, means that Florida will forgo an advantage in seniority that would come if a new 14th district lawmaker had been sworn in prior to other incoming freshman House Members in January.

Former state Rep. Connie Mack IV (R), son of former Sen. Connie Mack (R-Fla.), is considered a lock to fill the vacancy left by Goss. He faces only token opposition from the Democrats.

In reaching his decision, Bratina said, the governor determined that a special election would place too much of a burden on local election supervisors and would confuse voters, who would need to complete two separate ballots for the Congressional seat — one for the remainder of the current session and another for the 109th Congress.

Bratina said the additional cost to taxpayers also played a role in the governor’s decision.

It is not unprecedented to give voters dual ballots — one for the remainder of a term and one for the next term. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) was elected through concurrent balloting in 1996, when she took over for her deceased husband, Rep. Bill Emerson (R) — a move that enabled her to claim valuable seniority over her freshman classmates on the Appropriations Committee.

It had been widely assumed in news reports that the Florida governor would not call a special election for Goss’ seat, since the vacancy will occur so close to the Nov. 2 balloting.

Goss’ press secretary, Julie Almacy, did not respond to repeated inquiries.

But House Clerk Jeff Trandahl said he has been working with Goss’ office for weeks on a transition.

Goss was confirmed by a vote of the Senate on Wednesday evening and resigned his seat late Thursday.

On Friday, the Clerk of the House’s office took over control of Goss’ office.

His staff will stay in place to deal with constituent concerns. The Clerk’s office will continue to oversee the office. The outgoing lawmaker’s staff can remain on payroll at least until Goss’ successor takes over in January.