15 March 2005

Sarbanes and Dayton to Lead Exodus

Sen Paul Sarbanes D MD along with another Democrat, Mark Dayton of MN are leading the exodus of senior Democratic senators to leave the Senate by 2006. A similar wave of retirements was seen in 1994 after the GOP wrested control of the US House and Senate after nearly 40 years of exile from any major legislative roll in the US Congress. The then new minority members were mostly near retirement anyway, and with the prospect of not being able to achieve a chair position on a committee, many decided private pursuits were the order of the day.

In the wake of President Bushes resounding victory last November, where the president and conservatives won overwhelmingly, it seems a second wave of democratic defections, from the ranks of the Senate at least, is under way. It seems driven by the same selfish concerns regarding diminished power that goes with serving in the minority as were seen in 1994. David Kirkpatrick of the NYT Washington desk reports that "...Mr. Sarbanes, 72...colleagues said he had complained privately that serving in the Senate was much less gratifying as a member of the minority, without control of any committees or the legislative agenda..." Read the whole piece for complete details. We can only hope that the exodus of tired, selfish democrats is a large one this time.

Teddy Kennedy is up again in 2006, perhaps we could soon see John Heinz-Kerry elevated to Sr Senator from MA with ol' Kennedy retiring to a so-called "Senior Statesman" type of roll. Mitt Romney could land Kennedys seat with a raw political play of appealing to the voters good sense of having a member in the senate who is in the majority. In neighboring NY, Rudy Giuliani could take out their junior senator, making her far less a formidable presidential candidate.

For reasons of demographics unique to that state, Sarbanes MD seat will probably go to Kweisi Mfume who has announced intentions to run for the seat. Although that depends on who the GOP runs against him. Daytons MN seat on the other hand might well end up in play as both MN and WI have been trending more conservative in recent election cycles. Within the next few presidential election cycles they will probably become solid red states, and may pull MI in their direction as well.

Remember that Bush defied the odds not to mention most of congressional history when he picked up seats in the 2002 midterm election cycle. I really believe he could do it again, seriously tipping the balance of power. In the Senate especially. Alexander Brunk at Save the GOP has a good take on it here. I think this is right although I disagree with his analysis about TN, if the candidate is Harold Ford Jr. I will personally move back there to campaign against him. One has to be familiar with local TN politics and the Ford family shenanigans in particular to understand; but I don't believe TN will ever accept all the nonsense that goes with the Ford family to put Jr in the Senate. We'll see. Hat tip to my buddy Memphis Joefish. I didn't even look first, I just linked to his site because I knew "John-scandal-a-day-Ford" or some other member of the Ford family would have stepped in it again. Can Jr keep uncle John in the closet for the duration of a Senate race while undergoing major, perhaps national scrutiny? I doubt it. -SpinDaddy