The basic odds make it fairly unlikely that the Democrats will maintain their Senate majority. They only hold a narrow 53-47 edge after the 2010 midterms, and the party must defend 23 seats in 2012, compared to just ten for Republicans. Their troubles only increased when moderate Democrats hailing from conservative states—Ben Nelson and Kent Conrad as the most notable—decided that now was the time to retire, all but ceding their spots to the GOP. Every scenario looked doom and gloom for their chances. But then Republicans decided to sabotage those odds. First Olympia Snowe announced her retirement, after growing tired of her party's partisan rancor. Her seat is expected to go to the independent—but Democratic friendly—candidate Angus King.
When I was a kid, I was plagued by nightmares. One scary TV show, and boom, I'd wake up paralyzed with terror after a night in which animal-headed people tried to kill me all night, or Nazis pursued me through the streets of New York. After awhile, my little brothers knew to protectively chase me away from the television if something even faintly Hitchcockian came on; while they'd watch, I'd hunker down in my bedroom with Anne of Green Gables or, later, Tolstoy. My basic aversion to, or caution about, horror movies and scary books lasted well into my adulthood, until I learned how to tune down the fear and sleep through the night. But horror is a taste that I've never fully developed.
One of the big stories of this recession is the massive decline in public-sector employment. In order to weather the economic storm, states and localities have cut jobs for teachers, firefighters, police, and other public servants. As The New York Timesreports, this has also trickled down to higher education, where public colleges have cut training for valuable jobs and professions:
Senate Democrats think they have Republicans backed into a corner. In response to the hullabaloo around the Obama administration's decision on covering contraception in health-care plans, Missouri Senator Roy Blunt has offered an amendment to allow any employer—not just religiously affiliated organizations—to refuse to cover any health-care service—not just contraception—based on "religious beliefs or moral convictions." The battle over reproductive rights has already allowed Democrats to paint Republicans as antagonistic to women and, needless to say, Senate Dems are gleefully forcing a vote on the measure tomorrow to get their opponents' extremist take on the record.
…should there be a two-way race for the Senate seat (and that’s by no means a sure thing), Republicans will need a candidate who can run as a Snowe Republican. The currents of 2010 affect their ability to field such a candidate.
In July 1984, three high school kids tossed Charlie Howard off a Bangor, Maine, bridge, to his death, for being gay. The boys spent some time in juvenile detention; one later wrote a book called Penitence and spoke about accepting diversity to ease his remorse. (When I started dating the woman who is now my wife, she found that book on my shelves and turned ghostly white. In her history class at Bangor High, she told me, she sat behind one of the killers. She was out at the time.
This weekend, The New York Timesran a piece rounding up the regressive actions Tea Party governors and their friends are taking at the state level across the country. From ending certain state regulations to defunding the state environmental departments to hamper enforcement, these governors are making sure that their actions complement any anti-environment actions at the federal level.
[E]fforts to make historically large cuts to environmental programs are also in play at the state level as legislatures and governors take aim at conservation and regulations they see as too burdensome to business interests.
Let's say you're a moderate New England Republican senator, and you're up for re-election in 2012. What looks to be your biggest political problem? Well, looking at what just happened to some of your colleagues, you've got a strong incentive to avoid, or if that's not possible, overcome, a primary challenge. That means doing stuff like this:
She was once considered the most likely Republican to vote for health care reform. Now, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) is joining scores of Republicans and conservatives in support of the Florida health care lawsuit's plaintiffs, challenging the Constitutionality of the law.
Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reidtabled a vote on a bill to promote natural-gas and electric vehicles today in the hopes that a compromise with Republicans is close. That should give some hint that proceeding with the cloture votes on the Paycheck Fairness Act and the food-safety bill could be a bad sign. The Paycheck Fairness Act would make it easier for women to ensure they're receiving equal pay, and the food-safety bill would modernize the food-safety system and give the FDA more power to regulate, including the power to require food recalls.
Nothing conveys a legislator's deep commitment to being a constructive part of the democratic process like accusing your colleagues of being complicit in stealing elections. The DISCLOSE Act, you've probably heard, failed to get past filibuster yesterday, coming in short with 57 votes. DISCLOSE was a Democratic-sponsored response to the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling that aimed to fight big money with transparency. Certain big donors behind ads and other campaign activities would have to be made public. It's a fairly modest response to a troubling situation. But not in the eyes of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.