A smart reader emails:
I just read your piece responding to Hugh Hewitt, and I had been looking at the question a little since he posted his (really bad) idea.
[W]e do agree with plaintiffs that the Amendment’s drafters did intend to place some limit on the discretion of the states concerning the timing of vacancy elections by specifying that a Governor may make only a “temporary” appointment until an election is held. We would have difficulty, for example, squaring the word “temporary” with a statute providing that the Governor’s appointee is to serve out the remainder of a term regardless of its length. The question before this court is whether § 296 exceeds the limits of the discretion conferred upon the states by the Amendment.
So while perhaps before the writ was promulgated, Gov Ivey could have delayed it until, say, November 2018 without any constitutional issue, it seems clear enough that under the reasoning in Valenti, a full cancellation would drive right over the limiting principle around “temporary” appointments under the 17th amendment. Valenti was per curiam summarily affirmed by the Supreme Court at 393 U.S. 405 (1969) “The motion to affirm is granted and the judgment is affirmed.” (It was a 3 judge district court so no 2nd circuit action)
UPDATE: Garrett Epps also points me a very important 7th Circuit case making this claim, Judge v. Quinn.