GOP warns of one-party power
Republicans hope to head off a filibuster-proof Senate controlled by Democrats.
“No Checks. No Balances. No Stopping Them.”Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
That’s the new Action Alert from the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee – and a sign that some Republicans are now openly conceding the White House, but scrambling to keep a firewall on Capitol Hill.
That Democrats will roar into the 111th Congress with a majority is now conventional wisdom in Washington. The question is how much of a majority – and will it reach the 60-vote threshold needed to break a filibuster?
In the last days of the 2008 race, those 60 votes are looming large in races from Maine to Oregon, and nowhere more apparently than in North Carolina, once viewed as a safe seat for Senate Republicans.
A former “working mom” (banker), Ms. Hagan wasn’t even that well known in North Carolina, where she spent 10 years in the state Senate, including co-chairing the budget committee.
But Hagan is now taking Democrats within range of the 60 votes they need for a filibuster-proof US Senate.
“People are ready for a change,” she said in an interview between events on Day 1 of early voting in North Carolina last week.
“People are worried about jobs, the economy, and desperate for someone they can trust with the issues,” she says. “And Elizabeth Dole was only in the state 13 days in 2006.”
To emphasize the point, Hagan appears on the campaign trail with a pair of red slippers – a reference to the ruby slippers that Dorothy used to get back to Kansas in the movie “The Wizard of Oz.” (Senator Dole’s husband, former US Senate Republican leader and 1996 GOP presidential nominee Robert Dole, is from Kansas.)
To appear out of touch with your state is a misstep that has felled Senate giants in the past, most recently in the stunning upset in 2004 of Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle. But in the current political climate – with a national economic crisis that most voters blame on years of Republican control – it’s an even bigger political liability.
“What made Dole vulnerable in the first place was that she just hasn’t had a strong presence in North Carolina,” says David Rohde, a political scientist at Duke University in Durham, N.C. “She was regarded as an attractive person when she first ran, and that was enough to get her through the first time in a much more hospitable political environment than what we have now.