Thursday, January 14, 2010

Florida Mystery

Arlen Specter tells TPM, regarding the stimulus:
We had six Republicans who were negotiating. Besides Collins and Snowe, we also had Mel Martinez, we had Voinovich involved, we had Lisa Murkowski. And one by one, those three dropped off. There was a concerted plan in the Republican caucus to stonewall the stimulus package. And when I voted for it, and it took me to get the necessary votes, all hell broke loose politically, which I've commented on extensively.
Mel Martinez.  Remember him?   U.S. Senator from Florida.  Suddenly resigned in August, this year, instead of serving out his (first) term.  Why?  I have no idea.  I haven't seen it reported, anywhere, and I haven't seen his name come up anywhere since he left the Senate. I'm sure there's a story -- people don't usually resign eighteen months early for no reason at all -- but if it's been reported, I haven't seen it (and it doesn't show up on a quick search).  If I missed something, perhaps someone will leave a comment below.  If not -- hey, reporters!  You're missing something!

Anyway, it's not exactly clear that Martinez sticking around would have made any difference, but there is one weird caveat now.  LeMieux's voting record has been a fair bit to the right of where Mel Martinez had been, as expect, since he's Crist's guy and Crist would take the blame in the GOP primary for any vote LeMieux casts that can be portrayed as liberal or moderate.  But what if Crist loses the primary?  I've seen some wild speculation that Crist could defect to the Democrats, but I'd be pretty surprised by that...yes, true believers don't trust him, but he's always been a pretty mainstream conservative.  However, if Crist -- and if LeMieux -- wants some revenge, LeMieux could certainly drift Maineward in his voting for the rest of the year.  And that could actually make a pretty large difference.  Even if we assume that the Democrats stay at 60 after the MA election, it certainly would help them to have another potential target on close votes, either to help them get to 60 or to give marginal Dems some desperately-sought-after cover.  I don't know that I could calculate the odds of that happening, but I'd set it somewhere above zero.  Just something to keep an eye on.

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