South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson was hospitalized today after suffering a stroke or strokelike symptoms, the networks and wire services are reporting.
Johnson's staff tells CNN that the 59-year-old Democrat was conscious when he was taken to the hospital from his Washington office. Still, that isn't stopping anyone from speculating on what the senator's death or incapacitation might mean politically. Reuters reports that if Johnson were unable to serve out his term, his replacement would be appointed by South Dakota's Republican governor.
Assuming that the Republican would appoint a Republican, control of the Senate would switch from what is, effectively, a 51-49 Democratic advantage to a 50-50 tie, with Dick Cheney providing the tie-breaker in favor of the GOP.
Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.