Before I get to my question, It's probably wise to make a disclaimer. This is a purely hypothetical question; I don't want any politicians to get killed in any manner. I don't think the following is probable; I'm just curious.
That being said...
What would happen if Kerry died (by natural means or foul, it doesn't matter) before becoming the official Democratic nominee? I can think of four possibilities. A) His running mate (Edwards) takes the slot. B) The second place candidate (Dean, I would guess) takes the slot. C) Emergency election. D) Kerry's corpse runs, and Bush will risk getting beaten by a dead guy, much the way Ashcroft did.
Anybody have an educated take on what would occur at the convention? (Besides an overly long video-montage/eulogy, that is.) My guess is that since the delegates have final say, they would vote Edwards into the lead slot. They would rationalize it people wanted Kerry over Dean, and Kerry picked Edwards as his backup should the unthinkable happen. Additionally, an emergency popular vote is likely unfeasible, and running a corpse for president isn't a great strategy. The DNC would smooth out formalities with the various Secretaries of State later.
My guess sounds reasonable, but I'm curious to know if anybody knows for real what would happen. Is there any precedent for this sort of thing? Established rules? Anything?