Monday, February 2, 2009

The Magic 60

Awww. Turns out the Republicans aren't utter, complete morons, unwilling to part with one of their last remaining scraps of power that easily. No, little ones, there will not be 60 Democrats in the Senate for a while yet. Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell confirms what New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg has been saying -- he won't be leaving his post unless Democratic Governor John Lynch promises to appoint a Republican for the remainder of the Senate term.


Sure, it would have been nice to add a Democrat to the Senate that easily. Hell, maybe we could have shoehorned 70 Democrats into the Senate with this strategy. Appoint Bill Enzi as Ambassador to Lesotho or Mike Crapo as Director of Marketing Services at the USDA. It was never going to be easy. But the people of New Hampshire voted that they wanted Gregg as their Senator from 2004 to 2010. If they can't have Gregg, they can at least have another Republican. Serves 'em right.

There are two reasons I can't get too upset:

1. While Gov. Lynch will apparently appoint a Republican , I can't imagine he'll appoint a Republican to the right of Gregg. Senator Replacement won't vote like Jeanne Shaheen, true, but I wouldn't expect him/her to vote like Jim DeMint.

This is germane as applies to "The Magic 60", this addled belief that the main obstacle to Obama's agenda will disappear once there are sixty Democrats in the Senate. Cloture votes were not party-line in the last Congress, and I don't think they will be party-line in this one. As noted here, Mary Landrieu voted for cloture 21 times in the last Congress, and Pryor, Bayh, Dorgan, Baucus, and McCaskill recorded a dozen votes in that direction as well. Meanwhile, the Ladies of Maine are emerging as reliable backers of Obama's agenda. So the question of replacing Gregg with a Democrat doesn't matter nearly as much as would seem.

2. This also makes incumbency disappear as an advantage. Gregg has nearly $900,000 in the bank, and that's 900,000 fewer worries for Carol Shea-Porter or Paul Hodes. Suddenly, we have a much fairer contest than we would have against somebody so entrenched. Meanwhile, much of New England will be training its Democratic resources on New Hampshire as the last red mote in our Congressional representation winks out.

In other news, Paul Corrigan's SoapBlox-driven blog Blue News Tribune debuts on my blog list. Recently, Awful Announcing does the place of Fire Joe Morgan in the "snarky jock" slot in the blogroll. Check 'em out.

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