January 13, 2010

Big ripples from Massachusetts

The special election next week for the Senate seat left empty by the death of Ted Kennedy has more, far-reaching, implication than just a single Senate seat. It has national implications that will ripple throughout the nation, and ripple throughout 2010, and beyond. The Democrats, realizing this, have sent in some of their top guns to pull this race out of the fire for their party. So why aren't the Republicans all over this too?

Firstly, consider the impacts of another Republican Senator. With the current tally of Republicans at 40, and 60 votes required to stop a filibuster, the GOP needs one more Republican to be able to thwart a Democrat supermajority. The election of Scott Brown over Martha Coakley would provide that inertia dampening one extra vote that the Democrats swindled by sneaking in Al Frankenberry. It means poorly designed health care reform can be slowed if not stopped. It means cap and trade can be slowed so that real debate can take place. It's not a panacea but it might slow the bleeding on the national debt - or at least stop it from quickening even more.

But that's not the only consideration. With the GOP sweep in Virginia last November, along with the win for Governor in New Jersey, and the near upset of the Conservative Party candidate in NY23, conservatism, and to a slightly lesser extent the GOP has been on a roll. Combine that with a victory in Massachusetts of all places next week, and you have the making of true, surprising momentum. It sets the tone for the 2010 elections. For example, it gives the Republican National Committee a good position to work from for 2010 if there are any recruiting needs still outstanding.

And the momentum has a spinoff effect as well that serves to compound the prospects for the GOP in 2010 - Democrat retirements. If some House or Senate Democrats were on the fence about retirement, imagine how news of Republican Senator from Massachusetts might impact their decisions. It helps ease the incumbency advantage the Democrats possess (in theory), and it might cause the DNC to have to scramble for replacements, thereby taking them out of their 2010 game plan.

So yeah, this special election is a big deal. Special indeed. And the outcome is not a guaranteed Democratic win.

So where the heck is the RNC? After all, just as Sarah Palin pitched in for Hoffman in the NY23 Congressional race, Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney have both pitched for Brown in Massachusetts. Steele? Well, he's on a book tour. Even if he has a team working around the clock behind the scenes to help out Brown, the optics are terrible.

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