Good stuff. I'm surprised Byrd won Nebraska and Wicker won South Carolina, was there a third party spoiler in the wings? Also, interesting to see a Bush v. Gore style ruling at the Supreme Court in 1984. Moreover, its pretty ironic that the Halabja Massacre* becomes TTLs Iran-Contra. I am eager to see who the mystery vice president is.
Oh, there's no way the GOP is gonna forgive this. They're gonna be out for blood in '88.Some have referred to the Election of 1984 as a “campaign about nothing.” Neither candidate represented an ideological extreme. The economy was good, if not great, and voters seemed to be making their mind up largely based on if they wanted a cooling off period in the wake of Byrd and Grasso’s reforms. They decided they did. Weicker won the election with 289 electoral votes and a slim majority of the popular vote. But then, he didn’t.
A week after the election, the Illinois Supreme Court, packed with Democratic Party bosses, ruled that the Illinois Secretary of State had erred in accepting Lowell Weicker’s name for the Illinois ballot and determined Weicker was ineligible to become the President of the United States because he was not a natural born citizen. All votes for him, the Republican nominee, were deemed invalid and Illinois was prevented from sending electors to vote for him. With those 24 electoral votes, Byrd was named the winner of the election with 273 electoral votes.
The Republicans were furious and immediately appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in what became known as Edgar v. Americans for an Honest Government. In a 5-4 decision, written by William Rehnquist, the Court did not answer the question of whether or not Weicker was a natural-born citizen (or even what the term meant) and instead determined that the manner by which electors were chosen was fully within the purview of the states, and if the state Supreme Court ruled that Illinois had erred in verifying Weicker’s eligibility, that was fundamentally a state matter.
Weicker was enraged. His team prepared to sue the State of Illinois, arguing that he’d been improperly ruled ineligible to receive presidential electors. They also considered a suit on behalf of various Weicker voters who would argue they’d been deprived of their right to vote for President because the Secretary of State had not determined Weicker’s eligibility with enough time for the slate of Republican electors to support another candidate. The problem, however, was the timing.
The Supreme Court’s opinion came out on December 3, 1984. The deadline for certification was December 4th. Secretary of State Jim Edgar believed he was obligated to certify the results as ordered by the Illinois Supreme Court. In doing so, he ensured the electors would go for Byrd.
Some Republicans believed Weicker could still pursue a challenge, but he decided against it, believing that the ensuing legal battle might consume the nation for years and leave the country vulnerable to foreign attack. In a nationally televised address given from inside the Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford, Weicker announced that he was conceding the election to Byrd, though he refused to acknowledge that proceedings had been fair and called on Congress to remedy the issue by amending the Constitution.
Seeing as how Wolfowitz is still alive as of 2023 IOTL, I wonder what happened to him ITTL.Wolfowitz appeared before a joint Congressional committee to say that in private meetings with Byrd, the president directed him to arrange the evidence about chemical weapons in a way that absolved Iraq of guilt. Historians continue to debate Wolfowitz’s motives. Until the day he died, Wolfowitz insisted he was telling the truth even though most in the Byrd administration don’t believe he was. As they remember it, the idea of defending Iraq had been a uniquely Wolfowitz project. Some believe Wolfowitz thought he could absolve himself of the controversy and position himself as a whistleblower who could be appointed Secretary of State in a future administration. Others think he was insane – burned by the Byrd White House and willing to do anything to get revenge.