Liberty House leader Miranda O’Neal, Rep. Wes Summerfield announce bids for Speakership

Two Liberty representatives formally filed to run in the upcoming election for the Speakership of the Panem House of Representatives today, and the other members of their party decided to clear the way for the two.

Representative Miranda O’Neal, who currently serves as the House Majority Leader and the leader of the Liberty Party in the lower chamber, filed today around noon. O’Neal has served for the past ten years in her current role as House Majority Leader and served for approximately four years prior to that as House Majority Whip. O’Neal is openly favored by current House leaders and by Liberty moderates in the House as she tows a hard line but favors bipartisanship to divisiveness. However, she may be deemed too much like Constantin Richelieu, the outgoing speaker, to be considered a viable replacement and would not be able to revive the coalition talks with the Conservative Party members in the House.

Representative Wes Summerfield, who has served as representative for District 4’s twelfth congressional district for six years and was just elected to a fourth term, also filed to run for the Speakership today around 3 PM. Summerfield is known for his staunch right-wing ideals and never equivocating in the face of conflict in the House. A favorite of the Liberty base, Summerfield was floated for the role of National Security Advisor but was passed over in favor of Deputy NSA Kirk Hawking. Summerfield is likely to make this past election a referendum on how Liberty needs a change in leadership. Another plus for Summerfield is that he’s considered much more acceptable to the Conservatives, which would lead to a certain coalition between Liberty and the Conservatives. 

The two will face off in a vote of the Liberty Party conference, who determines the Liberty nominee for leadership positions in the House. Following that, the nominee will be put forward formally on the floor. However, in the way of both candidates lies the fact that a Speaker is elected by the full House in a majority vote of members. This means that 101 of the 200 members of the House will need to vote for a candidate for Speaker, requiring some sort of cross-party voting in order to elect a Speaker.

In addition to the two Liberty candidates, Centre leader Daniel Hutton has filed to run, as has Civic leader Georgia Landon and Labor leader Teraton Wendle. All three are not expected to win as they cannot form a majority, even in the scenario that the three opposition parties combine their efforts. Meanwhile, Conservative leader Kari Lyles has declined to file, stating that she wishes to use the Conservative caucus’ influence to decide the new Speaker.


Celine Oswald to head Liberty National Committee; Deputy NSA Kirk Hawking appointed as NSA

President Peeta Mellark (Liberty-D12) made two more appointments today. However, both of these do not require approval by the Senate like others before them.

To the position of Chair of the Liberty National Committee, President Mellark has designated Celine Oswald, his outgoing Secretary of State, as his pick to serve in that role. Though Oswald will need to be formally voted on at the Liberty National Committee’s spring meeting, it is tradition that the President gets to select the chair upon inauguration. President Mellark previously designated First Lady Katniss Everdeen as chair, but following the Liberty Party’s decline during the last election cycle, Everdeen decided to step down as chair. Celine Oswald will come into the role with a vast rolodex and will be considered a breath of fresh air; Oswald’s history in the party is only rivaled by Presidents Everdeen and Mellark themselves. Oswald served as an independent governor of District 13 before running against President Paylor and Katniss Everdeen for the presidency. She then served as Secretary of State under Everdeen, joining Liberty soon after its formation. She then became the vice presidential nominee of the Liberty Party alongside Katniss Everdeen and was elected to the number two spot. She served for four years in this role before becoming the presidential nominee of the Liberty Party following Everdeen’s decision to step down after two terms. Despite her loss in that election to Rick Canth, Oswald remained active through her service as Secretary of State and through her third presidential run, in which she was defeated for the nomination by then-Senator Peeta Mellark.

For the second nomination, President Mellark has selected Kirk Hawking to serve as his new National Security Advisor. Hawking has served as Mellark’s deputy National Security Advisor for the past four years and served previously as President Everdeen’s Deputy Secretary of State under Celine Oswald and then under Jonathan Madison. Hawking replaces Cecelia Paylor, who served in many capacities in Panem’s government from National Security Advisor to Attorney General to President.

Senate confirms Wallace as Sec. of Homeland Security, Dalton as Sec. of Transportation

The Panem Senate confirmed two more of President Peeta Mellark (Liberty-D12)’s second-term Cabinet picks.

Mason Wallace, the former governor of District 7, was confirmed by the Senate to the post of Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security in a voice vote. Wallace takes over from longtime Secretary and Mellark family friend Haymitch Abernathy, who is retiring after a sixteen-year tenure at the Department. The Department of Homeland Security is considered one of the Cabinet’s most important posts, even though it lacks seniority in the presidential line of succession. Wallace previously served as the governor and lieutenant governor of District 7 and was defeated for reelection to that post this past cycle. He resigned the governorship in order to dedicate his time to his nomination process.

Sextimus Dalton, a transportation industry executive, was confirmed by the Senate to serve as the next Secretary of the Department of Transportation in another voice vote. Dalton, a Centre Party member, has now become the first and only member of President Mellark’s cabinet to be of an opposition party. Dalton takes over the department from Secretary James Peliot, who insisted on only serving a single term at the Department. Dalton has a long political history, starting from his first time as representative from District 5, his failed vice presidential run against Plutarch Heavensbee, his second vice presidential run with Elizabeth Steinbeck, his second tenure as a representative, and finally leading up to becoming the first Centre statewide officeholder in the nation of Panem as the lieutenant governor of District 5. Following his defeat for reelection in that role Dalton returned to the private sector until his selection to serve as Secretary.

Following these confirmations, only two nominees remained unconfirmed by the Senate (Jonathan Madison for Secretary of State, and Valère Descoteaux for Secretary of Defense). Both are awaiting confirmation hearings by the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and by the Senate Committee on Armed Services, respectively.

Cortez confirmed as Energy Sec., Hawthorne confirmed as Intelligence Sec.

The Senate moved quickly on the first day of President Mellark’s second term to confirm his nominees for the Energy Department and Intelligence Department.

Lynnette Cortez, the governor of District 12, was confirmed as Secretary of Energy in a voice vote. Cortez resigned her position as governor in a letter that took effect upon her confirmation, ensuring that there would be no issue. Harriet Myers, the lieutenant governor of District 12, will now become the fifth governor of District 12. Myers has the ability as the new governor to name her successor as lieutenant governor, to which she has named district senator Vance Jefferson.

Gale Hawthorne, the governor of District 15, was confirmed as Secretary of Intelligence by a vote of 25 to 7. All seven senators of the Red-Green Coalition voted against Hawthorne’s nomination, stating that he was far too radical for the position and claimed concerns over his opinion on torture. Hawthorne has previously mentioned that psychological torture can be used in certain circumstances to retrieve information, but also stated that terrorists are the only individuals who should experience such torture. Hawthorne’s resignation letter as governor went into effect upon his confirmation, with lieutenant governor Marshall Risinger becoming governor. The secretary of state of District 15 automatically becomes lieutenant governor in the absence of an officeholder. As such, Risinger will be succeeded by Brody Elliott.

INAUGURATION DAY: President Mellark, Vice President Tarson sworn in for second term

Today marked the second inauguration of Panem’s fifth president, Peeta Mellark (Liberty Party-District 12), and Panem’s sixth vice president, Rebecca Tarson (Liberty Party-District 12). The pair were reelected in the closest federal elections in Panem history. Below are some notable results from this past election:

  • President: Peeta Mellark. Mellark was reelected as president in a tight election that required the nation’s first federal runoff election for the presidency. Mellark received 51 electoral votes in the first round, which was 18 short of the 69 needed to achieve an outright win, and 34.23 percent of the popular vote. In the second round, Mellark narrowly achieved an outright win over former Gov. Kaitlyn Jones, the Conservative nominee, with exactly 69 electoral votes to Jones’ 67. The popular vote percentage for the final round was 52.02 percent Mellark to 47.98 percent Jones.
  • Vice President: Rebecca Tarson. Tarson was reelected as vice president in an even tighter election than the President’s, requiring a federal runoff election that resulted in an electoral vote tie that had to be broken by determination of the popular vote winner. Tarson received 61 electoral votes in the first round, which was 8 short of the 69 needed to achieve an outright majority in the first round, and 36 percent of the popular vote. In the second round, Tarson tied the electoral college with Centre nominee Rep. Matthias Christian, which required a determination of the winner by popular vote. As the final results reflected a lead for Tarson of 51.58 percent to Christian’s 48.42 percent, Tarson was reelected vice president.
  • In the districtwide elections, four governorships, three lieutenant governorships, and two district legislatures flipped parties, with the following elected this election:
    • Governors: Cooper McPharlin (Conservative-D1), Donald Beck (Centre-D6), Glenn Beckham (Conservative-D7), Dillan Christian (Centre-D10)
    • Lt. Governors: Haywood Jackson (Conservative-D1), Lydia Rome (Conservative-D7), Cyrus Westley (Centre-D10)
    • District Legislatures: District 1 Legislature (Liberty –> Conservative), District 10 Legislature (Liberty –> Centre)
  • In the race for control of the House, the composition of the Panem House of Representatives now is 96 Liberty members, 54 Centre members, 25 Conservative members, 18 Labor members, 6 Civic members, and 1 independent member who will caucus with Liberty. Liberty has lost the majority in the House, but has formed a leadership coalition with the Conservative Party in order to maintain control of the chamber. The leaders of each party in the House are;
    • Presumptive Speaker of the House of Representatives: Constantin Richelieu (Liberty-D14)
    • House Majority Leader (thus, Liberty Party leader): Miranda O’Neal (Liberty-D13)
    • House Majority Whip (thus, Conservative Party leader): Kari Lyles (Conservative-D10)
    • Leader of the Opposition (thus, Centre Party leader): Daniel Hutton (Centre-D15)
    • Labor leader: Teraton Wendle (D2)
    • Civic leader: Georgia Landon (D13)
  • Following the resignation of D7 Governor Mason Wallace, Patty Newsom became governor of District 7 until the inauguration of Glenn Beckham.
  • If the nominations of President-elect Mellark are confirmed, the following will become governor:
    • Harriet Myers, District 12
    • Marshall Risinger, District 15

Vice President-elect Rebecca Tarson (Liberty-D12) arrived first, as tradition holds, coming in her motorcade from 1 Corsican Circle, the official residence of the Vice President. Also in the motorcade was Second Gentleman Nathaniel Tarson. Vice President-elect Tarson ascended the steps of the Capitol towards the center dais, where she would be inaugurated. For the first time in Panem’s history, the oath of office was delivered to a federal official by a female justice. Chief Justice Francine Ashland Brewster administered the oath of office to the Vice President-elect, making her formally Vice President once again.

Due to a technicality in the Panem Constitution, the Vice President-elect always is sworn in prior to the presidential inauguration. This is due to the possible circumstance of the president’s death prior to the vice presidential inauguration, which would hence cause a constitutional crisis. Therefore, upon inauguration, the Vice President becomes Acting President for at least two hours until the presidential inauguration.

And thus, Vice President-elect Tarson became Vice President and acting President Tarson.

The president-elect’s motorcade left Stonehaven (also known as the White House or the Presidential Mansion) for the inauguration. In the motorcade were President-elect Peeta Mellark, former President and First Lady Katniss Everdeen, and their child, Delia Mellark. The three exited the motorcade and moved into the Capitol, where they began the traditional walk through the Capitol to the outer steps for the inauguration.

President-elect Mellark and First Lady Everdeen once again reprised their positions in one of the most famous images in political history; two presidents, walking together to the inauguration of one. This time, however, Delia Mellark was present. At the top of the steps waiting was Chief Justice Francine Ashland Brewster. She represented the starkest difference in the presidential backdrop of the inauguration, but also represented one of Mellark’s key accomplishments. Once Ashland Brewster administered the oath, the crowd ruptured with applause.

Following his oath, President Peeta Mellark came to the podium to deliver his inaugural address:

“Four years ago, we embarked on a journey that was destined to be long and treacherous. We faced a devastating economy, a dangerous world, and a crumbling country. I promised to you four years ago on these very steps that we would return to being a guiding light for the world to follow, that we would end the discord in our country and bring about harmony, faith, and hope. I pray that these goals have been at least partially accomplished during my first term. Together, we accomplished more than we ever thought possible, and now it is time to move towards a grander and greater second term. As we have restored the light to our nation, we now must lead the world. We cannot sit by idly and allow for global disruption. We must act for freedom, for our shared ideals. We must decisively act to ensure the fundamental justice we know here in Panem is shown to all of mankind. We have a duty to the rest of the world to prove that Panem is willing to step up to the job and lead this wonderful world.” — President Peeta Mellark (Liberty Party-District 12)

President Mellark nominates Sen. Valère Descoteaux as Sec. of Defense

President Mellark made his final remaining nomination for his Cabinet today, nominating Senator Valère Descoteaux (Liberty-D14) as his pick to head the nation’s Department of Defense.

Valère Descoteaux currently serves as the junior senator from District 14, Panem’s only overseas district. Descoteaux is the brother of current Secretary of the Treasury Rosalie Descoteaux, and if confirmed, this would be the first time that siblings have served in the Cabinet together. District 14 is home to multiple military bases of strategic importance to the nation of Panem, providing defense against antagonistic nations in Europe, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia. Descoteaux also currently serves as the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, from which he must either resign or recuse himself from in order for a confirmation hearing to be held. Under Panem law and Senate rules and procedures, senators that are nominated for any position that must be considered by the Senate must recuse themselves from any voting that occurs on their nomination as it would constitute a conflict of interest.

The pick of Descoteaux is considered to be a surprise by many observers, including some in the government. Many believed that the President was leaning toward nominating D2 Governor Felix Warren, with General Landon Mills as the second option. This pick is likely to elevate the stature of Mr. Descoteaux in Panem politics by putting him in a much more public role as Secretary, which has been a common stepping-stone for a future federal run for public office.

Mellark names Gale Hawthorne as Sec. of Intelligence, Lynnette Cortez as Sec. of Energy

President Mellark has officially nominated two more candidates for open Cabinet positions. In an announcement at the White House, Mellark nominated D15 Governor and former Secretary of Defense Gale Hawthorne for the post of Secretary of Intelligence and D12 Governor Lynnette Cortez for the post of Secretary of Energy.

Governor Gale Hawthorne (Liberty-D15) was selected by the president due to his close personal connection with the First Family and his time as Secretary of Defense. Hawthorne currently serves as the governor of the 15th district of Panem, which comprises the area that was the old Capitol before it was devastated by an extremely deadly earthquake that nearly wiped out the Panem government. He has worked since to rebuild the area and has achieved a large success. Hawthorne previously served as the governor of District 2, the nation’s military district, and as President Katniss Everdeen’s second Secretary of Defense, where he oversaw Panem’s response to the Fourth World War. If confirmed, Hawthorne will be succeeded as governor by Marshall Risinger, his lieutenant governor, who will subsequently become the first African-Panemian governor of District 15.

Governor Lynnette Cortez was selected by the president for similar reasons to Hawthorne; Cortez has a close personal relationship with the First Family due to the close-knit political scene in District 12. Cortez has served as governor for the past four years since taking office upon the ascension of then-Governor Rebecca Tarson to the vice presidency. Cortez, as governor, has managed the district that controls the largest portion of Panem’s energy sector, making her one of the few politicians with unique qualifications to hold the top job at the Energy Department. If confirmed, Cortez will be succeeded by D12 Lieutenant Governor Harriet Myers; Myers will be the fourth consecutive female governor of District 12 and the first African-Panemian governor of the district.

President Mellark has nominated the following in total for open cabinet positions so far:

  • Secretary of State: Jonathan Madison (Liberty-D4), current Secretary of Defense
  • Secretary of Intelligence: Gale Hawthorne (Liberty-D15), governor
  • Secretary of Transportation: Sextimus Dalton (Centre-D5), former representative
  • Secretary of Energy: Lynnette Cortez (Liberty-D12), governor
  • Secretary of Homeland Security: Mason Wallace (Liberty-D7), former governor

The single open vacancy, barring any unannounced resignations, is that of Secretary of Defense, being vacated by current Secretary Jonathan Madison, who has been nominated to head the State Department.