even difficult questions need to be asked
There are some public rumblings. WTAE ran this blurb last week that seems to challenge the conventional wisdom that the City Council President would serve out the remaining term of a mayor who leaves office. It seems that one can interpret section 206 of Pittsburgh's City Code such that a special election could be held in the Spring of 2007.
That seems plausible although the argument that the election could be in the spring/primary election begs the question of why there was not such a special election following Mayor Caliguiri's death in spring of 1988?? By the logic propounded in that blurb, there should have been a special election in the spring of 1989, which was in fact the first municipal election after Mayor C's death. There was no such election. (has this section been updated since then? anyone?) Was there even talk of one being held? It could have been a dual election as is common enough, with a special election to fill out the remaining term being held at the same time as the primary election for the next term. but again, there wasn't any such special election. Sophie masloff served through the end of term Caliguiri was elected to.
How big a difference do the two interpretations of the code make. If a special election had been held in spring of 1989, it would likely just have had one candidate from each of the two main parties. The candidates would have been picked by the parties respective committees, not in a primary election. So who won the Democratic endorsement for mayor in 1989? Tom Flaherty, who would therefore have been a reasonable pick to win the endorsement/nomination in the special election as well.
The city could have had a very different counterfactual history. If Tom Flaherty was the only Democrat onthe ballot, he would most likely have won the special election, but he still would have been in a wide open field for the primary, which Sophie could still have won. TF would have then taken office immediately from Sophie in the spring, while Sophie remained the Democratic nominee for the full term starting in 1990. Tom could have served served through the end of the year when a victorious Sophie would have taken over again. but then looking ahead TF would have been in a much stronger position to run for a full term on his own 4 years later. TM could easily still be in the state house.
Anyway... if the ambiguity of city code leaves something lacking.. it really isnt that much better at the Federal level. I know everyone thinks it's pretty clear: if President leaves office, the VP takes over.. if VP is not around the speaker of the house is next up and so on. That may seem clear, but there are some footnotes to all of that and some odd possibilities about what could happen in the presidential succession process that are not talked about much. Maybe in another post I will try and explain that, or at least try to explain why I even know about such things.