Saturday, January 16, 2021
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What If Republicans Take Back the Virginia State Senate?

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What will happen if Republicans take back the Virginia State Senate on November 8? I've thought about this question off and on (mostly off) for the past few months, and I still haven't reached any firm conclusions. However, with a definite possibility (30%? 40%? higher?) of that actually happening in 5 weeks, I thought it might be worth throwing out a few thoughts and opening it up for discussion.

1. One thing is clear: a Republican takeover of Virginia's government, with no checks or balances on them to speak of, would be extremely bad news for Virginians. Extremely bad news, that is, unless you're a wealthy, white, male Virginian (or a big, powerful corporation). But for the remaining 95%-99% of us, it could get really ugly.

2. The only question is how far right wing an agenda the Teapublicans would push, whether on LGBT rights, women's reproductive freedoms (and you thought shutting down abortion clinics was bad...), gun laws (see here for more on that subject), immigration laws (Arizona and/or Alabama here we come?!?), crazy federalist stuff like teahadist Jim LeMunyon's radical "REPEAL" amendment, trashing Virginia's environment, etc., etc. In short, if Republicans win the State Senate on November 8, 2012 and 2013 could truly be horrible years to be a Virginian.

3. Would a far-right-wing lurch by Virginia Republicans tarnish Bob McDonnell's utterly-false-yet-ubiquitous "moderate" image, potentially making him less appealing as a national figure (although paradoxically making him more appealing among the teahadist base)? Would McDonnell try to rein in a Republican-controlled General Assembly, would he encourage them, would he hide under his desk, or what?

4. Would a far-right-wing lurch by Virginia Republicans cause their approval ratings among Virginia independent voters to plummet (for possible analogies, see Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, and other states where something like this has happened), potentially increasing Barack Obama's and Tim Kaine's chances of winning Virginia in 2012? Would this effect carry over into 2013, making it more likely that Democrats would make big gains, including possibly taking back the governor's mansion, that year? In sum, would a far-right-wing lurch by Virginia Republicans next year, if they are not restrained by a Democratic-controlled State Senate any longer, hurt their electoral chances in Virginia and actually help Democrats in 2012 and 2013?

5. The bottom line for me is that, purely as a partisan Democrat, I actually can see upsides to Republicans taking back the State Senate, for the reasons listed above. However, as a Virginian, I only see downsides, at least in the short term. The question is, would the short-term downsides (and possibly longer-lasting damage) be "worth it," if they were compensated for by the long-term destruction of the Republican "brand" in Virginia, by Barack Obama and Tim Kaine winning in 2012, by Democrats taking back the governor's mansion (and gaining multiple seats in the House of Delegates) in 2013, etc? That's a tough call, and it's highly tempting. In the end, though, I come down to fighting the battle at hand and to avoiding the "known known" disaster in the short term, which a Republican takeover of the State Senate almost certainly would be.

What do you think? Feel free to weigh in. Thanks.

Senate Approves Debt Deal 74-26; Webb and Warner Vote “Aye”

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A few minutes ago, the U.S. Senate voted 74-26 to approve the debt ceiling deal reached this past weekend. Both Jim Webb and Mark Warner voted "aye." Below, watch Mark Warner explain his thinking on the debt ceiling deal, his "aye" vote, and also his belief in the need for a "full, long-term solution...to get our debt-to-GDP ratio back in line."

P.S. There's a rumor floating around on some of the (far, far!) right-wing blogs, that Mark Warner supposedly won't be running for reelection in 2014. I just checked with Warner's office, and spokesman Kevin Hall told me that is "[c]ompletely not true".

Courtney Lynch Campaign Launch?

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Only if you take Donald Trump as legitimate does Courtney Lynch deserve any attention. Out of left field, a potential challenger to Governor Kaine appeared and the media, like a beagle, picked up the scent. But yesterday she took on a personality that Allen, Kaine, and Senator Webb avoid.

Tony Macrini gave Lynch her own lead until a caller provided the catalyst that sent this episode into a spiral. It might have gone there eventually. It was a welcome relief from the pablum delivered by the print media. Responding to a question about Libya, she looked back at a strategy abandoned by the Bush administration. Under the old construct, national strategic planning recognized the constraints of military resources (aka, reality). America always planned for two major contingencies with the approach of "Win-Hold-Win." That meant that if there were simultaneous threats, resources would be dedicated to win one while holding the other at stasis. Then, upon the winning the one, turn our focus to the other. The idea was to avoid two stalemates, or worse, two simultaneous losses. It was a strategy employed for six decades. Lynch went on to comment that we have to look strong and hard at where we involve ourselves. For a glimmering nanosecond, one thought she was going somewhere with this line of discussion. Then she opined that:

Lynch: "...to protect the liberty and rights of innocent civilians as we are doing in Libya is consistent use of American armed forces. But I do believe we have to be careful..."
Macrini: "Ms Lynch, do you know for a fact that these people we are protecting in Libya are not al Qaida, they're not terrorists, these rebels? Do you know for a fact that they're innocent civilians we are protecting?"
Lynch: "I don't know for a fact anything. I am not on the ground in Libya."
Macrini: "All right. That's what you said. That's what you said. You didn't know it for a fact; why'd you say it? You said we're protecting the people in Libya."

Would Bobby Scott “Clear the Field” for Senate AND Have a...

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In recent weeks, we've heard talk by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-3rd) - and also by his ally (?) Doug Wilder - that Scott is seriously thinking about running for the U.S. Senate in 2012. That leaves Scott as the only Democrat even suggesting that he might challenge Tim Kaine for the nomination. Note that Tom Perriello - and everyone else, basically - has indicated strongly that he would defer to Tim Kaine. But not Bobby Scott. In addition, Scott has said that he's going to take his sweet time making up his mind - he says he'll decide by July - knowing full well that Tim Kaine probably can't wait that long. What's Bobby Scott's game here? I've been thinking about it and talking to some astute Virginia Democrats. This is what I've concluded.

First, from Bobby Scott's perspective, running for U.S. Senate - or at least floating his name to run for U.S. Senate - makes perfect sense. Here he is, a senior Congressman in the Virginia delegation, having been first elected to the House of Representatives in 1993. Yet, following Jim Webb's announcement that he'd be retiring after a single term, nobody was talking about Scott as a potential U.S. Senate candidate. That's got to rankle. At the minimum, he doesn't want to be Rodney Dangerfield - he wants to be shown some respect!

Then there's the issue that, following the Democrats' "shellacking" in 2010, Bobby Scott is now in the minority in the House of Representatives, with no certainty that he'll return to the majority in 2012 or beyond. At this point, about to turn 64 years old, perhaps Rep. Scott is interested in doing something else prior to his well-earned retirement? It would certainly be understandable!

But hold on, you say, could Bobby Scott really defeat Tim Kaine in a Democratic primary? The answer to that question is almost certainly "yes." A few points to consider:

Gerry Connolly Takes His Name Out of the Running for U.S....

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According to The Hill:
Connolly said he was "flattered that some would consider me a potential candidate" [for U.S. Senate], but made clear that he will run for reelection to the House next year, even if Kaine decides against a Senate run. He won his 2010 contest by a razor-thin margin over Republican Keith Fimian.
Clearly, this will break the hearts of the 15 folks signed up at the Draft Gerry Connolly for Senate Facebook page, and the 25 followers of the Draft Gerry Connolly Twitter account. ;) In all seriousness, though, I'd say it's a smart move for Rep. Connolly to focus on his reelection, especially since he was just named to to the DCCC's most vulnerable list.

More on Destroying Government

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We know, after the non-performance of the Senate these past two years, that we do not have to wait for Republican dominance in Congress to see gridlock. It is not all due to Republicans' calculated recalcitrance, however. The Senate just adjourned with major business left undone, but it did finally confirm 54 of President Obama's nominees, including two of his three nominees for the Federal Reserve. As Ezra Klein pointed out on Thursday in The Washington Post, the rather miraculous approval came at a price exacted by Mitch McConnell, (R-KY) Senate Minority Leader. The price: the Senate will not be fully in recess; it will be "kept in pro forma sessions" over the next 6 weeks so that the President cannot make "recess appointments," thus by-passing the requirement for Senate confirmation.  

The Face that Launched A Thousand Days of Nothing

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After everything that happened on their watch in 2007, this is the extent of their contribution?  After all their buck-passing and blame-shifting for what they did, now Mitch McConnell thinks this is how they should lead?  Huffington Post reports that 41 Republicans will block ANY debate on financial reform.  

There it is for all the world to see.  They spin bad-fiction about whatever the issue is.  They seed all manner of hate against the president. They incite (and actually are behind) tea-ranters.  And then they do this to the American people.  For more on this story, please go here.