I've taken a lot of grief from people for maintaining that the Democrats don't have a real majority in the Senate. People have called me stupid, uninformed, a Republican apologist, and all sorts of fun little insults designed to demean my intelligence. And I take it in stride because of situations like this.
With Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) apparently having a stroke, this sets up an interesting situation in the Senate. Let me say up front that I wish Senator Johnson a full recovery or as full a recovery as possible. Having a stroke is serious business, and it can truly incapacitate someone. Nobody wants Johnson to die as far as I know, not even those who would stand to gain politically from it happening.
The interesting situation I mentioned earlier involves Senate control. Right now, the Senate has a 49-49-2 split, not a 51-49 split as has been reported in the media time and time again. If Johnson were to resign due to health issues or to die in office, the Governor of South Dakota would have to choose a replacement. And the Governor of South Dakota is a Republican. Although there's no rule saying he has to do it, if he chooses a Republican, it creates a Senate split of 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats, and 2 Independents. If the Independents vote with the Democrats (always a dicey thing when you consider Joe Lieberman), it creates a 50-50 tie. The Constitution states that when there is a tie in the Senate, the Vice President acting as President of the Senate casts the deciding vote.
In short, the Democrats lose what they worked so hard to gain if Johnson has to step down for one reason or another. It doesn't give me joy to consider the possibility, but it has to be considered.
And to those who said I was stupid for saying Democrats didn't really have a majority in the Senate, you can post or email me your apologies. :-)