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January 24, 2013. Washington, DC
It was Tom Benjamin‘s last season in professional football. He had not been back to
the Superbowl since his last Superbowl win with the Giants. He had been traded to the
Carolina Panthers at the beginning of the season. But the 2012 season had been fantastic,
with Benjamin grabbing the last bit of the old magic, completing an incredible record-
breaking 72% of passes in a single season. Steve Shane, Benjamin‘s number one passing
target, had 1,912 passing yards, breaking Jerry Rice‘s single season yardage record. In
the NFC Playoff Game against the Seattle Seahawks, with four seconds left on the clock,
Benjamin lobbed a beautiful spiral to Shane in the corner of the end zone for the winning
touchdown. The final score was 28 to 26. The Carolina Panthers, the home team of
President Anna Scall, would be going to New Orleans for the Superbowl against the
Miami Dolphins. It was hard to see how the President, a diehard football fan, could miss
going to that game. The Secret Service Agents watching the game in the White House
groaned when they saw the result. The logistics for security at the Superdome just
became more complicated.
When the dead had been counted two days after the blast, political junkies across the
country quickly did the math. The Democrats had a four-vote majority, 52 to 48, in the
Senate before the explosion. But after the explosion, seven Democratic Senators and
three Republican Senators had perished. That brought the tally to 45 Democrats and 45
Republicans, a tie. Normally the sitting Vice President would cast the deciding vote, but
now there was no Vice President, resulting in a deadlock. Because the majority party in
the Senate gets to control the agenda of the Senate, each party wanted to make sure they
had the control. In order to do that, they needed their state Governors to appoint
replacements immediately. On the morning of January 24, 2013, at 10 a.m., the
Republican Governor from Nebraska, ignoring the President‘s plea to pick replacements
according to the party of the fallen Senator, appointed a Republican to replace the
Democrat from his state who had perished. This gave the Republicans a temporary 46 to
45 lead. An hour later, Republicans in the Senate voted a Senator from Kentucky as their
Majority Leader, who immediately called for a vote on Matt Suba‘s nomination for Vice
President. The Democratic Minority Leader said they would be ready for debate at about
2 p.m. that day. At 1 p.m., the Governors from Arkansas and Oregon appointed
Democrats to replace their fallen comrades, giving the Democrats a 47 to 46 lead. The
Democrats met at 1:30 p.m. and elected a Senator from Pennsylvania as their new
Majority Leader. Having gained control of the agenda, the new Majority Leader
canceled the vote on Matt Suba. This game of musical chairs happened three more times
that afternoon, with Republican Governors from Missouri, Wyoming, and Montana
sending three more Republicans to the Senate, and Democratic Governors from Texas,
New Jersey, and Maine sending three more Democrats. When the dust settled at the end
of the day, the Democrats were barely in charge, 50 to 49, with a special election
scheduled for Arizona, one of the few states that do not allow the Governor to fill the
Senator‘s seat.