"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt." -- JP Curran, 1790

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Get to know your GOP Sentators

As the final session of 2008 comes to a close and uncertainty remains in the MN and GA races, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at the GOP Senators for 2009.

Assuming Coleman and Chambliss return, there will be 42 Republicans, 56 Democrats, and 2 Independents. Remember that the talk of 60 Senators to override filibusters includes these 2 Independents, Bernie Sanders and Joe Leiberman. Both come from Liberal Democratic backgrounds and states. However, Leiberman has been more aligned with Republicans regarding National Security.

This first image shows all 42 GOP Senators listed alphabetically by state. I've added data on their last election, margin of victory, the winner of that state in the 2008 Presidential election, the Presidential margin of victory in 2008, their next election, the year they were elected/appointed, the number of years in the Senate, and their American Conservative Union (ACU) Rating.

I wanted to understand who some of the future leaders are going to be. I filtered by those who had an ACU rating greater than 90%, been in the Senate for 8 years or more, and excluded Sen. Brownback who has announced that he will vacate his seat in 2010. That generated the following 8 names. This is a scientific approach and does not include personality and leadership traits.

All 8, with the exception of John Ensign (NV), are from solid Republican states that were won by McCain in 2008. Only 2 face re-election in 2010, which may be another challenging year for Republicans. Jim Bunning (KY) is the only one of the 8 with less than a 10% margin of victory in their last election. So they all have strong support of their constituency for their Conservative politics. Which means they have potential for lasting power and can avoid the threat of not getting re-elected if they choose to remain truly Conservative. Of the 8 I am most familiar with Jon Kyl (AZ) and have been impressed with his recent leadership in the financial crisis and opposition of the bailouts. His is articulate and comes across as an intelligent and persuasive Conservative voice. I'm by no way anointing any of these 8 as "The One" but rather singling them out has players to watch.

For those looking to the most senior members, John McCain (AZ), Richard Shelby (AL), Richard Lugar (IN), Chuck Grassley (IA), Mitch McConnell (KY), Kit Bond (MO), Arlen Specter (PA), and Orrin Hatch (UT). They will obviously play near-term leadership roles as the Republican Committee Chairs and influential Senators. Shelby will be a leading voice on Banking and financial crisis. Lugar on foreign affairs. Specter and Hatch on Judicial appointments. McConnell as the leader of the agenda and so on. But this is a representation of the past. They will be de facto leaders for the next 2-4 years. When I generated the list below, I wanted to see who can lead the resurgence and carry our message for the next decade.

For those who see John McCain as the heir apparent to GOP Senate leadership, he is not. Sure, he has been and will continue to be one of the most influential GOP Senators on policy and agenda. But, he is the quarterback, not the play caller. His strengths are executing the plan and building coalitions to "get things done". Unfortunately in this atmosphere he will have a difficult time quarterbacking the compromises. Democrats have a majority and a perception that the world is theirs. Teaching them otherwise will be decided on the backbone of the GOP. Will they have the mustard to stand up in opposition and filibuster with authority? We will see.

Finally, looking ahead to 2010, there are 19 GOP and 15 DEM Senate seats up for re-election. Of the 19 GOP Seats, there are obvious early targets for the Democrats.

Sen. Brownback (KS) is vacating his seat in 2010, leaving a potential opening with the right candidate.

Looking at the states that Barack won in 2008 and margins of victory for the Senators in their last election:
They will likely not target Sen. Grassley (IA), Sen. Gregg (NH), and Sen. Voinovich (OH). Rather they will focus on Sen. Martinez (FL) who won by less than 1% in '04, Sen. Burr (NC) who won by 5% in '04 and is a state that Democrats are fighting hard to keep in 2012, and I wouldn't be surprised if they make attempts at Sen. Specter (PA) whose clout may not be enough for him to keep his seat in 2010.

Looking at others with closer margins of victory:
The will definitely target Sen. Thune (SD) who won the seat from their former Leader Tom Daschle. After the experiences in KY against McConnell, they will likely Sen. Bunning (KY) who is an easier, yet less impacting, target then Mitch. With Stevens out, they will take a shot at Sen. Murkowski (AK) or any other female GOP candidates (ahem!). Targeting Sen. DeMint (SC) has longer odds given the states history, but he is a first term Senator and would be a blow to the more Conservative side. They will likely not have a chance with Sen. Coburn (OK), despite him being a first term he is in a safe state for GOP Senators. Sen. Bond (MO) could be the alternative to Specter in their attempts to payback the Daschle targeting in 2004. Sen. Isakson (GA) could be another first term target depending on the outcome of this years runoff with Sen. Chambliss (GA). Finally Sen. Vitter (LA) who is a first term Senator who had a large victory margin, but has been in the news for his corruption and cheating could have a difficult race in 2010.

I will return with a follow-up article, Get to know your DEM Senators. In which I will do the same analysis of current/future leadership and 2010 opportunities.

Signing off...JCB

Source: ACURatings.org, Wikipedia.org, Senate.gov, and USElectionAtlas.org Sphere: Related Content

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