Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Question for Liberals

It's the reverse of the question for conservatives: which Senate candidates do you really care about?  Two parts...of the endangered Democratic incumbents, and ignoring strategic questions and anything about the opponents, which ones do you care most about saving?  Which ones would you not mind losing?  I'll leave Lincoln out of this (since it's a question for liberals)...the other endangered incumbents are Boxer, Murray, Feingold, Reid, and Bennet.

OK, how about the challengers and open seat candidates?  Again, put aside anything other than which ones you think would make great Senators.  The Democrats in contested races are Blumenthal, Manchin, Coons, Giannoulias, McAdams, Meek (or Crist?), Ellsworth, Carnahan, Conway, Hodes, Fisher, Sestak, Marshall, and Melcanon.  If you could pick three to be Senators, which ones?  If three have to be left behind (and, for Democrats, that's of course a very optimistic scenario, but...), which three?


  1. I live in Wisconsin, and I'll be devastated if Feingold loses. He's the most consistent and boldest progressive critic of both Democratic and Republican administrations, and the only person in the Senate who deserves to be called a deficit hawk (as opposed to a peacock).

    After him, I'd like to see Jack Conway win in Kentucky. I would be a good demonstration that you don't have to sell out progressive or Democratic values to win in a red state.

    If control of the Senate weren't at stake, I wouldn't mind losing Harry Reid. I think either Schumer or Durbin would be more effective leaders. I suppose the best case scenario is he wins, but doesn't run for leader again.

  2. Like Lester, if Senate control wasn't at issue, losing Harry Reid would be a bonus. A 52 seat majority without Reid would be stronger than a 53 seat majority with him. He's simply an incompetent Senate leader.

    I'd like to keep Feingold and Murray around. I only want to keep Boxer because she's on our side; DiFi is just a better senator.
    As for the challengers, I don't really need any of these guys. I consider this a weak field for us. So, again, my decision would be based on their opponents. And there, if we're specifying that it wouldn't affect the partisan balance, I'm unsure if I want the nutjobs to win or lose on their side. If they win, they get to filibuster, but I'm not sure that matters more than any other member of the GOP caucus; on the issues where these people are just fucking insane, I'd expect 10 votes from the sane Republicans to kill them off, anyway. But, it's still a threat, and a sane Republican might cooperate on one or two random issues with the good people. On the other hand, elect these people, and the ads for the Dems are the nightly news where these idiots are shown on TV to millions daily. Tell me Angle won't say something absolutely batshit crazy. Or Paul. Or O'Donnell. These people are just nonstop crazy, and they'll drag down the party with them.

    So, I'm torn, but I'm only torn because I haven't figured out whether the tea party nutsos are better for us if they get elected or not. All this, again, assumes the same nubmer of seats. If we lose a Dem to any Rep, it's a bad thing, and the number is more important than who it is.

  3. I would want to keep Feingold. Strong progressive voices will needed to strongly resist the post election push to move to the center, and I would hate to lose arguably the most consistent voice progressive voice in the Senate.

    As for the the Democrats challenging for seat, I would say Blumenthal because of some oh his antitrust stands. He might even be better then Dodd on matters of corporate regulation.

    I would say Hodes because his record in the House he has shown that he is supportive of the Democratic agenda, and I also think Sestak would be a good Senator even though I worry that he might be too deferential to the national security state.

  4. I have to disagree with the above commenters on Reid. While I certainly can't stand, say, his political posturing on the mosque in Manhattan, the fact remains that he held together sixty Democrats for a health insurance bill that's bigger than anything since Medicare for our party. I do think Schumer or Durbin would be a better leader--that's unquestionable--but I'd rather not lose the most effective Senate Majority Leader since Mike Mansfield.

    This being said, I'm originally from Wisconsin, so losing Feingold would be absolutely crushing. The other incumbents really aren't in as much danger, except for Bennet.

    Open-seaters? Taking into account current conditions (ie Coons is near-certain to win), I want Conway, Marshall, and Sestak. Instant improvement over the current office-holders (except, perhaps, the liberal reincarnation of Specter).

    Ones to leave behind? The three least likely to win: McAdams, Melancon, Ellsworth. I really don't want to lose Indiana, but Bayh screwed us over on that one. Ellsworth would be a decent Senator, and McAdams would be a great complement to Begich, but I can live with this. Melancon I vacillate on--better than Vitter, yes; worth having in the Senate...maybe.

  5. I am pretty cold blooded and strategic in my whole attitude - I want as many as possible to win, but don't care that much which ones. Boxer, just because I'm in CA. And Reid on strategic grounds, since in the reality based world he's been a very effective Majority Leader.

    But contrary to other commenters, if we gotta take a hit, why not Feingold? Voting against the Patriot Act or whatever was nice, but an empty gesture, and in general he seems a lot more show than substance.

  6. As to the incumbents I wouldn't want to see any of them lose. As to who do I most want to win? Boxer and Bennet, who's been a pleasant surprise in office so far (definitely like him more than Sen. Salazar).

    As far as who'd be the best senators - I think Hodes, Coons, and Giannoulias would be best. As far as who I'm least excited about - Ellsworth and Melancon.

  7. I love Boxer and she always has a tough reelection fight. I just saw her first ad last night and it was pretty effective. I can't stand DiFi and wouldn't mind if she were defeated, but I work hard for Boxer. I don't think that Feigold is very effective as a Senator, Murray and Bennett I have no strong opinion, and Reid -- I can't decide if he is a very, very effective ML, or incompetent. Did he give up too much on the rules when forming the 111th? I don't know. I give him big big props for his Herculean efforts in bringing HCR home. Awesome to watch. (On the other hand, his opponent might offer some great entertainment, as would the prospective Senator from Connecticutt.)

    As for the challengers - meh. I'm just mainly interested in warm Democratic bodies. I prefer that they aren't Blue Dogs, but if that's what we get, oh well. I'm more interested in maintaining the majority than rooting for anyone in particular.

  8. I would hate to see Reid lose because it would be an embarrassing loss and he is not bad at playing the Senate game (it is just a lousy game). But I think to lose Feingold would be a real loss.

    Challengers: Carnahan, not because I am particularly enthusiastic but because it is my state, fairly good on the environment though not so good on the fiscal side and Blunt is so awful on both counts. It would be nice to have 2 women senators from MO.

  9. I wish Feingold retains his seat. Indeed he is one of the most consistent (and the rare of those who voted against Bush Iraq war...) ones. He is still too Lefty for my taste, but we need such principled politicians in Senate.

    Next I want Boxer to save her seat. I liked her lot that she voted to deny another term for Bernanke, but lately quite discouraged by her apparent willingness to support Tax Cuts for Rich. I am in CA and I would be voting for her. The problem for me is chances of Dems 'screwing' base after the election are exceedingly high (it could be my naive understanding to talk about high chances and still hoping that Dems will block that...) in this tax cut votes - as Lieberman said, Dems will back that after the election. So I will be reduced to reading 'tea leaves' and battle of 'citizen duty' in voting for Boxer.

    After reading Maureen Dowd's latest column in NYT, it is hard not to get a sick feeling about the gang - Miller, Angle, Paul & O'Donnell. No member of that gang should be in Senate. I guess the only next acceptable choice will be at least not the whole gang is in Senate. Paul is extreme, but considering his Dad in House, I guess he may be the only acceptable of that gang.

  10. Feingold's election is the most important to me, by far, even though I do not live in Wisconsin. True progressives are a rarity in the Senate--right now it's really just him and Bernie Sanders to my mind, previously Paul Wellstone filled this role--and we cannot afford to lose one. Feingold is the only person to whom I have given money this cycle.

    Also the simple fact of Feingold winning would somewhat alter the narrative even if and when Dems do poorly--i.e. it would show that a senator who is on the left on most issues was able to win in this electoral environment. As someone well to the left of "liberalism," that's important to me.

  11. I'm impressed with Reid's leadership in the impossible mess that is the Senate, so I'll be sad to lose him. I have to give him big ups for getting health care through.

    Let me dissent a little from the Feingold love above. I've never seen evidence that he's really that effective. He's good at taking bold public stands in defense of things that are good and right, which endears him to good people, but in terms of doing the backroom tactical / procedural stuff to actually generate better policy outcomes? I just haven't seen much evidence of that on any big recent issue.

  12. I don't really care that much about the challengers. None of them seem like they'll be standout senators to me, but it's hard to tell. I like Charlie Crist, and I think there's a chance that Manchin, Blumenthal, Crist, or Conway could be effective because of their experience.

    On the other hand, the incumbent senators are all quite good (except, of course, lincoln) Feingold is the one I'd probably be most willing to lose, since he strikes me as an all-hat-no-cattle Kucinich type. Boxer isn't very effective, but she's a good vote. I think Michael Bennett is a very honorable senator, and I wouldn't be thrilled to lose him. Patty Murray is a good senator, I think the Washington senators and the Oregon senators are my two favorite state delegations. Reid...I don't think he has been as bad as some people say, but I do think that Durbin and Schumer would make better majority leaders.

  13. Russ Feingold .... it would be a terrible loss for this bold progressive voice to no longer be in the Senate.

  14. The incumbents I want to protect the most are Boxer and Feingold. And let me say a word about that- it's true that both of them are far, far better at staking out a lefty position than they are at moving any legislation to the left (Feingold more than Boxer, but she does it, too). However, I'd argue that a Senate caucus has room- indeed, has a NEED- for both. I think we're kinda looking for Feingold or Boxer (or someone else- Brown? Sanders?) to be the next Ted Kennedy- enough liberal cache to stake out a lefty position, AND enough Senatorial clout to move legislation closer to that position. But we might want to consider that Kennedy was a rather singular legislative talent, and that it will be awhile before we see someone like him again. Moreover, we've got some good guys in the caucus that can move legislation to the left- Sanders and Brown, who do it without much fanfare or holding their vote for ransom. So why not also have a couple people that are ready to point out when we haven't gone far enough left? There's a certain nobility in dissent, y'know.

    (Of course, if you want to point out that Feingold's dissent on Wall Street Re-regulation actually moved the bill TO THE RIGHT, I really don't have an answer to that.)

    If control of the chamber isn't an issue, I'm happy to lose Reid. Yes, he's done a pretty impressive job holding together 60 Democrats (And let's be honest, when your caucus gets up to 60, it's too diverse to fully agree on ANYTHING). But clearly, that's not going to be an issue in the next Congress. I'll be surprised if "getting things done" is even a POSSIBILITY for the legislative branch, so I'd rather have someone who's going to just throw haymakers at the Republicans.

    As for challengers, I'm all about Alexi Giannoulias. Not only is he in my home state, not only has he been surprisingly effective as Treasurer, but the big thing is, he's locked in a tough, brutal general election...and he's running to the left. I gotta support a guy who thinks his power comes from the progressive end of the electorate. So much better than the people who swoop right into the middle the day the primary ends.

    And what the hell, throw Conway in there, too. I think Rand Paul would be singularly unimpressive in the Senate, but he'd be a rallying cry for all the new no-nothings.

  15. I'm confused about how Reid could be seen as a good Majority Leader. Heck, just last week he punts on the tax thing, which I can't see as anything but stupid. After the elections, name me one senator who'll be MORE inclined to vote for tax cuts. No, the ones who hold on will shift to the right, interpreting the GOP wins as a "mandate." It won't be a mandate, but they'll interpret it that way. So, your choice is losing on the issue now or later. And the choice of now is obvious: 1/4 of Americans think Obama has raised taxes, and he's actually lowered them. The invective from Fox is so strong on this that the Dems NEED some facts to point to. Like: "I voted for tax cuts. See? Here's the vote."

    Reid has simply never grasped that the Majority Leader's job involves a heck of a lot of public agenda setting and framing. (For that matter, it doesn't seem like Pelosi has, either, but she seems to be a much better head-counter to me)

  16. I really disagree with Matt on this one: I think Reid has been a pretty good majority leader. As for voting on the tax bill...if he doesn't have the votes to win, which apparently is the case, then on substance it doesn't matter much whether they vote now or not and it's at least plausible that not voting is better for the spin part of it (because it allows the Dems to frame it as a pure partisan difference, whereas voting would reveal that the GOP is united and the Dems are split). Meanwhile, as I argued last week, the case for more leverage after the election is that as the deadline approaches the Dems can use the default (if nothing passes, it's a tax hike for the middle class) against the GOP. Would it force a compromise? I don't know, but it's plausible.

  17. Colby, I'm a big fan of Jeff Merkley for either a Ted Kennedy role or possibly leadership someday. The guy was brilliant back in Oregon as House Speaker with a 31-29 majority, so he knows how to play the game. Sherrod Brown could emerge into that role too, maybe. Hard to tell with junior guys who don't get as many chances to make big moves.

    I haven't watched Gillibrand closely enough, but I'm curious to see how she develops.


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