The State Journal's Footnote will try to explain the often heard, but perhaps not widely understood, phrases, ideas and controversies in the news. It runs weekly on Sundays.

Q: U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., has announced he won't seek reelection next year. Many people have been suggested as possible candidates, including U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis. If she were to run for Senate, could she also run for her House seat simultaneously?

A: No, a person cannot be on the same ballot more than once for a partisan office, with the exception of president or vice president, according to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.

If Baldwin decides to run for Senate, she would need to give up her House seat. Both seats are up for election on the same date — Nov. 6, 2012.

The rule does not apply to a candidate for president or vice president.

Most recently, Vice President Joe Biden was a sitting Democratic senator from Delaware up for reelection when he was tapped by candidate Barack Obama to be his running mate in 2008.

Biden landed on the winning presidential ticket and was simultaneously reelected to another six-year Senate term. He resigned his Senate seat.

Similar situations occurred with Lyndon Johnson, Joe Lieberman and Lloyd Bentsen. In Bentsen's case, he was a popular senator from Texas when Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis chose him as his running mate in 1988.

The Dukakis-Bentsen ticket took only 43 percent of the Texas vote, yet Bentsen simultaneously was reelected to a fourth Senate term with 59 percent of the vote. (Republicans George H.W. Bush and Dan Quayle won the election.)

Wisconsin law allows that "a candidate may appear on the ballot for more than one local nonpartisan office at the same election."

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