Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Democrats need to think about long-term growth in the Senate

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Originally published on on Thu, 11/20/2008 – 11:00am

Ted Stevens — 40 years
Pete Domenici — 36 years
John Warner — 30 years

That’s 106 years of Republican Senate rule that is retiring or being pushed out (Stevens). Now the seniority of the Republican Party is down to Dick Lugar (R-IN) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), both elected in 1976.

The next three in seniority are Thad Cochran (R-MS) in 1978, Arlen Specter (R-PA) in 1980, and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in 1980.

Why is this important to Democrats and progressives? Well, the more senior Republican members tend to be more pragmatic and sometimes less harshly conservative.

In looking for bipartisanship, an Obama trademark, losing moderate Republican senators isn’t always the best thing, especially those that have an institutional memory of when the mood wasn’t as hostile.

The good news for Democrats is that the Republicans aren’t gaining from the back end. There will be no new Republican Senators from the 2008 class. There was only one new GOP Senator in 2006: Bob Corker (R-TN).

And for the six Republican U.S. Senators who joined from the 2004 class, all of them replaced a Democrat, a sign the Democrats can fight for those seats: Mel Martinez (R-FL), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), David Vitter (R-LA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Jim DeMint (R-SC), and John Thune (R-SD).

When a Senator knows his/her party won’t be in power for awhile, their minds start to wander. Specter will be 80 and Grassley will be 77 when they are up for re-election in 2010, both in states that are winnable for Democrats.

We still don’t know Minnesota and Georgia, but whether the Dems get to 60 may not be as important as holding onto the Senate for decades to come. Each seat that fight tooth and nail on is one less seat they need to worry about later on in case of losses from having control of the White House as well.

The period from 1995-2007 is a dark one for this country, thanks to virtual GOP dominance of Congress in that time. Democrats need to use their power wisely to help the people (not corporations and lobbyists), and if they can do so, their reign can be long and fruitful.


Written by democracysoup

November 20, 2008 at 11:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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