The Associated Press reports the results of a poll conducted by Siena College in which 65 percent of responding voters said they want New York State law changed so that U.S. Senate vacancies are filled by special elections rather than appointments by the governor. It's unlikely that anyone asked people the same question before the Blagojevich-Burris and Paterson-Kennedy-Gillibrand comedies, but it would be interesting to see how many people have only recently embraced the special election idea. It wouldn't surprise me if most people were only just learning that governors had this power in most states.
Critics of special elections complain about the cost. They are best answered by Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, a Republican who is now favored to win Senator Gillibrand's former congressional seat and who, on this issue at least, is the opposite of a conservative. Asked about estimates that special elections would cost up to $20,000,000, Tedisco told the AP that "it's ludicrous to allow cost to deter politicians from pushing elections over appointments." Mocking the logic of the critics, he suggests: "Let's eliminate all the elections and we'll save a ton of money. In fact, let's take our voting machines and sell them on eBay to a state that has real democracy."
Should he be elected, I hope Tedisco will support the Constitutional amendment that Senator Feingold intends to introduce. That would take the matter out of state hands, but since it's basically the same idea I don't see why anyone would object to it on states-rights grounds. Some may object on I-trust-my-governor grounds, or for the penny-pinching reasons mentioned above, but that would just be dumb.