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« Strategy Memo: Tightrope To Victory | Blog Home Page | No GOP Shakeup Imminent »

FEC Divide Bridged?

Offering a potential solution to a conflict that has neutered the Federal Election Commission, Republican Hans von Spakovsky withdrew his name from consideration to the panel late last week. Von Spakovsky, a former Justice Department official, was involved in several contentious decisions that angered Senate Democrats, who promised to block his nomination.

The White House and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell had insisted that all the nominated commissioners be voted on in a package, as has been traditional, while Democrats demanded a separate vote on von Spakovsky's name, a prospect that would have likely doomed his chances.

With von Spakovsky out of consideration, both sides are working on new nominees to fill the remaining slots on the commission. McConnell said he was "deeply disappointed" by the nominee's decision to withdraw, while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called it "a victory for our electoral process" in separate statements.

The FEC, left with just two commissioners, two short of a quorum, was unable to issue rulings on cases before the commission. If the argument over the FEC cannot be resolved by late Summer, the impact could be more dramatic: While John McCain apparently plans to seek public financing, the disbursement of the $84 million his campaign would receive must be voted on by the commission. Lacking a quorum, McCain would likely have to go to court to get his money.

Democrat Cynthia Bauerly and Republicans Caroline Hunter and Donald McGahn still await Senate confirmation. Democrat Ellen Weintraub and Republican David Mason are the two current commissioners, though McGahn will replace Mason.