Republicans savoring election prospects after Democrats drop out

January 6, 2010

Let the countdown begin.

USA/The 2010 election year has officially started and Republicans can barely contain their glee after two senior Senate Democrats announced they would not run again and a House Democrat switched to the Republican Party.

Right out of the New Year’s gate, Senate Democrats Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota said they would not seek re-election in November.

Democrats control the Senate 60-40 which is just enough to overcome procedural hurdles and pass legislation without a single Republican vote. Republicans are expected to pick up seats, but not enough to win back control.

In December, Democrat Congressman Parker Griffith switched to the Republican Party. That defection brought the Democrat control of the House of Representatives to 257-178 and they are expected to lose more seats this year.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele sought to tie it all to President Barack Obama’s policies and capped it with a zinger at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. USA HEALTHCARE/

“Whether these Democrats want to admit it or not, President Obama’s government-run liberal agenda and their foolish decision to wholeheartedly embrace it has increased Republicans chances of regaining the majority and we are working hard to ensure this happens,” Steele said in a statement.

“The real question is whether Harry Reid, now the Senate’s most vulnerable Democrat, will follow Chris Dodd’s lead and step aside,” Steele said.

(Gauntlet thrown down)

We asked Reid’s office for a response. “The fact that the head of the Republican Party wants Reid to step aside is a clear admission that he knows Republicans won’t win this race,” Jon Summers, Reid’s Nevada spokesman, responded.

(Verbal jousting has only just begun…)

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 Photo credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid (Steele in July 2009), Reuters/Jim Young (Reid in December 2009)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Democrats control the Senate 60-40 which is just enough to overcome procedural hurdles and pass legislation without a single Republican vote. Republicans are expected to pick up seats, but not enough to win back control.

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Democrats savoring election prospects after Republicans drop out or self destruct is more like it.

Which party has more Senate retirements so far this campaign cycle, Democrats or Republicans? Which party has more House retirements so far this campaign cycle, Democrats or Republicans?

If Dems are “dropping like flies,” (the popular Republican media phrase) the answer should be obvious. But it’s not — in both chambers, Republican retirements outnumber Democratic retirements.

In the House, 14 GOP incumbents have decided not to seek re-election, while 10 Democratic incumbents have made the same announcement. Does this mean Republicans are “dropping like flies”?

In the Senate, six Republican incumbents have decided not to seek re-election, while only two Democratic incumbents have made the same announcement. Is this evidence of a mass Democratic collapse?

Among governors, several incumbents in both parties are term-limited and prevented from running again, but only three Democrats who can seek re-election — Parkinson in Kansas, Doyle in Wisconsin, and Ritter in Colorado — have chosen not to. For Republicans, the number is four — Douglas in Vermont, Rell in Connecticut, Crist in Florida, and Pawlenty in Minnesota. The GOP number is actually five if we include Palin in Alaska. Republican retirements outnumber Democratic retirements in the House, in the Senate, and among governors.

As usual, the Republican media talking point of the day doesn’t match up well against reality. In fact, in the case of Chris Dodd, it is a major setback for Republicans. Dodd is retiring specifically because he’s putting his constituents’ and the country’s interests above his own. The goal here is for Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a popular statewide official, to immediately fill the void.

Blumenthal will be a strong favorite against a weak Republican field, which includes a former wrestling executive and a former Republican congressman who lost in 2006. GOP leaders who crowed about Dodd’s retirement are no doubt disappointed to see a key opportunity suddenly appear far less likely.

Blumenthal has made no secret of the fact that he intended to challenge Sen. Joe Lieberman in 2012. If Blumenthal runs and wins this year, Rep. Chris Murphy is the most likely competitor, and would be well positioned as a strong Lieberman opponent. After voting against his constituents on healthcare, Lieberman is likely to lose his seat in the next election no matter who runs.

This is a scenario that isn’t very savory for Republicans at all. It’s interesting that the media portrays it as such.

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