Scott Brown Senate win leaves Obama, Democrats scrambling
Scott Brown’s Senate victory in Massachusetts has shifted the political landscape. Endangered Democrats are likely to play it safe, and some might retire.
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That may be a greater problem for moderate Republicans. Nervous Democrats are more worried that top-tier Republicans, sensing the wind at their backs, will jump into the fall elections. Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) is considering a challenge to Sen. Russell Feingold (D) of Wisconsin, one of the Senate’s most liberal members.Skip to next paragraph
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New York next to go 'red'?
“The only announced GOPer is Bruce Blakeman,” blogs Mr. Miringoff, director of the nonpartisan Marist Poll in New York. “Not exactly a household name. But, then again, Scott Brown certainly wasn’t either.”
In some respects, the political climate today resembles that of early 1994, when the Democrats were swept out of congressional control on a wave of discontent. Republicans had just won the gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia, and a Republican – Kay Bailey Hutchison – had taken over the Senate seat of Democrat Lloyd Bentsen, who had resigned in 1993 to join the Clinton administration. Though not as striking as the Massachusetts election, the Texas vote signaled a GOP comeback.
The Massachusetts upset “is the kind of event that feeds on itself, because contributors are paying attention,” says John Pitney, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif., and a former GOP staffer. “Candidates all over will be able to hit up contributors saying, ‘Look, if Scott Brown can win in Massachusetts, I can win here,’ wherever ‘here’ may be.”
More Democrats could retire
The Brown victory could also give Democrats thinking of retiring one more nudge toward the exit. Open seats are often harder to defend than incumbent-held seats – especially those in swing districts or those that lean in the opposite political direction from the member – so each retirement pushes the 2010 cycle toward a potential blowout.
But there’s an important difference between now and 1994. Then, it had been 40 years since the Republicans had controlled the House.
Today, it has been only four years – and the public does not have fond memories of Republican-controlled government.
Democrats are still debating the Brown upset. Was it about policy or a lackluster Democrat facing a charismatic Republican? Likely both, analysts say.
“It’s the substance, stupid!” writes Lanny Davis, a former Clinton White House counsel, in Huffington Post. He cites polls showing that fears about the Democrats’ healthcare proposal figured prominently in Brown’s win.
But, Democrats add, a top-notch campaigner with a reassuring message could probably have saved Ted Kennedy’s seat.
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