With LeMieux Pick, the Dawn of a New Era of Appointed Senators

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George LeMieux, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's selection to succeed retired Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), will become the fifth senator this year to take his seat through appointment. A possible sixth appointee is waiting in the wings if Massachusetts leaders change that state's law and allow the governor to make an interim appointment to fill the Senate vacancy left by Edward M. Kennedy's death Tuesday.

In recent times, that's an unusually large number of unelected senators to be holding office at the same time, according to records maintained by the Senate's Historical Office.

Looking back over the last 100 years, however, there were several times when turnover among senators led to the seating of even more appointees than will be serving shortly.

The largest such group took office as part of the Congress that wrapped up World War II, covering 1945 and 1946, when 13 senators were appointed to their seats. In Dwight D. Eisenhower's first two years as president, 1953 and 1954, 10 senators were appointed to office. The pace and extent of the turnover was such that at one point the majority Republicans had fewer seats than the minority Democrats as the two parties fought over how to reorganize the chamber, according to Donald Ritchie, the Senate's associate historian.

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