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Democratic US senator takes ill, could change Congress control


dpa German Press Agency
Published: Wednesday December 13, 2006


Washington- A Democratic US senator took ill Wednesday
afternoon with a possible stroke, raising a chance that his seat
could become Republican in the event he cannot continue in office.
Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota, 59, was taken to George
Washington University Hospital "suffering from a possible stroke," a
statement from his office said.

The centre-left Democrats barely eked out a majority in the US
Senate in November elections, with 51 seats to 49 for the centre-
right Republicans.

In the vote, Republicans lost control of both chambers for the
first time in 12 years. Public anger over the lack of progress in
Iraq helped fuel the Democratic takeover.

If Johnson is unable to serve out his six-year term, which ends in
2008, the governor of South Dakota, who is a Republican, would
appoint a replacement.

The successor would likely be a Republican, according to common
practise in US state politics that accords governors the power to
make decisions on open Senate seats.

Johnson was "undergoing a comprehensive evaluation by the stroke
team," his office said in the e-mailed statement.

Johnson has served in the Senate since 1996 and was re-elected in
2002.

© 2006 - dpa German Press Agency