Friday, December 19, 2008

U.S. Senate!

Something a little different:

As a political nerd and Senate-enthusiast I've been following the U.S. Senate drama pretty closely recently. There's been a lot of motion on that front recently and it's really hard to keep up. So here it is: your very own guide to the Senate drama!

To recap: Sens Barack Obama and Joe Biden were obvious elected to President and Vice President this fall, both leaving behind unfinished terms (or in Biden's case he was actually re-elected to the Senate as well).

We all know about the drama with Governor Blago in Illinois trying to sell the Obama seat. That all continues to unfold: the Governor may be facing impeachment, some officials want there to be a special election instead of letting the Governor decide the replacement. Biden's seat meanwhile appears to have a seat warmer in place. The outgoing Governor there appointed a longtime Biden confidante to hold on to the seat until there is a special election held in 2010. The conventional wisdom? That the Senate seat is really being held for Biden't son who is currently serving in Iraq. He should be back from Iraq and ready to run by 2010.

Then there are those who are being appointed to Obama's cabinet. Of course, my favorite Senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton, has been tapped for Secretary of State. Senator Ken Salazar has also been asked to serve as Secretary of the Interior. This leaves the Governors of New York and Colorado, respectively, to fill the now open seats. Governor Patterson of New York is being lobbied left, right, and center to appoiont one of many local officials to the open seat. But Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late President, has been running a real media circus around her pseudo-campaign to be appointed. Personally, I don't see any reason whatsoever to appoint her. She's barely a New Yorker (granted, neither was Clinton at first) but more importantly she has absolutely no experience in public office and there are many more candidates that are interested in the position that have demonstrated their ability. She's now even calling herself a "Clinton Democrat" in order to help her case, even though she endorsed Obama in the primaries. So which is it, Ms. Kennedy?! I will likely rant about this issue in particular in the coming days.

The Governor of Colorado is seeking online submissions of ideas on who should replace Salazar - interesting idea!

Then there is the whole drama in Minnesota. The incumbent, Norm Coleman(R), has had a razor thin lead against Democrat Al Franken (regardless of politics, he was one of my favorite comedians growing up...). There has been a mandatory recount going on in Minnesota for more than a month now. Lots of problems - lost and found ballots, challenges from both sides, write in problems, and there are looming legal battles. Today, the AP reports that Coleman's lead has been reduced to two (2) (Yes two!!) votes. Franken is expected to take the lead today, but who knows if it will last, there are still more ballots to count and challenges to be heard. It is very likely that this contest will not be settled until sometime after the Senate opens its new session Jan 6th.

It's all over the place, and I frankly can't wait to see how all of this works out. The Senate is going to have either 57, 58, or 59 Democrats. Depending on who wins these races it could decide the outcome of several import pieces of legislation this session. With so many new Democrats who are a little more conservative on certain issues, this could be interesting.

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