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Senate Dem 58   GOP 41   Ties 1
House Dem 257   GOP 178  

Map of the 2010 Senate Races
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News from the Votemaster

New Burris Revelations Could be the Beginning of the End for Him

Appointed senator Roland Burris (D-IL) was approached by the brother of impeached governor Rod Blagojevich (D-IL) for campaign contributions. Burris never bothered to mention this before. If his response had been "Get the hell out of here right now" and he had immediately called the police, he might be OK. Now he is in deep trouble.

Republicans are already calling for his resignation from the Senate, which is an incredibly stupid move. Be careful what you wish for; you might get it. Suppose Burris listens and resigns (unlikely so far). Then the new governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn (D), who is untainted by this scandal, can appoint a squeaky clean new senator who will be a much stronger candidate in 2010 than Burris. If Burris hangs on, he is likely to face a tough primary in 2010, with the entire Illinois Democratic Party opposing him. It is not likely he will be expelled from the Senate (unless it is shown that he committed a felony--and talking to Blagojevich's brother was uncouth but not felonious in itself). Still, his days in politics are probably numbered at this point. He might survive until 2010, but very unlikely beyond that.

Already state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D), the son of Greek immigrants, is looking at running the Democratic primary and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) hasn't ruled out a run either. Various other Democrats, including Attorney General Lisa Madigan, are now also looking seriously at a primary run. Conceivably Burris could get a plurality in a multiway primary, but the primary is in 2010 and we still have most of 2009 to go.

The other appointed Democratic senators are in a much stronger position. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is popular upstate and is a prodigious fundraiser. She will be very difficult to topple in a primary and the strong favorite in the general election in blue New York. Michael Bennet (D-CO) is a blank slate. He has never held elective office before, but being an incumbent in the majority in a state trending blue, he has the edge, especially if the Republicans can't find a top-drawer challenger--and there is no obvious challenger just waiting to jump in. Ted Kaufman (D-DE) will not run in 2010, but everyone expects Joe Biden's son, Beau Biden (the state attorney general), to run and win in this blue state.

Coleman Asks the Court to Reverse Itself

Yesterday former senator Norm Coleman asked the judges in his election contest to reverse a ruling they made Friday, namely, to not count 12 categories of absentee ballots that did not conform to Minnesota law. It seems pretty unlikely the judges will reverse their own decision that is only 3 days old, so apparently Coleman is counting on using this decision as material for an appeal if he loses. Unlike Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004, Coleman does not give up easily.

Two Senators from Maine Hold the Balance of Power

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) have become key players in Washington as their votes are crucial to getting legislation through the Senate. Currently the Democrats are two votes short of 60 and these two socially liberal but fiscally conservative senators are likely to cast deciding votes on many upcoming bills. However, the two women are definitely not cut from the same piece of cloth. If fact, they don't even like each other. Snowe, the daughter of a Greek immigrant was orphaned at 9 but her second husband was a wealthy businessman and she is now in the top 10% of all senators in wealth. She is known for her well-tailored suits and expensive jewelry--not to mention her fairly liberal opinions on many issues. Collins, who is rumpled and not wealthy at all, comes from the small town of Caribou in northern Maine, hard by the Canadian border. But her political pedigree is deep: her father, grandfather, and great grandfather all served in the Maine Senate and she cut her political teeth as a long-time staffer to Sen. William Cohen (R-ME). While not as liberal as Snowe, she is still far to the left of the center of the Republican caucus. The Washington Post has a good backgrounder on these two very different powerful women.

Historians Say Lincoln Was the Greatest President

A C-SPAN poll of 65 historians concludes that Abraham Lincoln was the greatest President ever. Many other polls have also come to this conclusion. But the historians have fallen prey to the common effect in "greatest ever" polls that recent people, movies, songs, whatever, do better than old ones. It is hard to believe, for example, that John Kennedy (6) was a better President than Thomas Jefferson (7). What did Kennedy actually do? He reduced the top tax rate from Eisenhower's 90% and he decided to go to the moon. He introduced civil rights legislation, but none of it passed until that Master-of-the-Senate, Lyndon Johnson, took office. In contrast, Jefferson's accomplishments are too numerous to mention, starting with the Louisiana purchase without which the U.S. would be about a quarter its current size. Similarly, Ike's rating at #8 seems disputable. He was a popular general who had just won WWII, but as President he spent a lot of time playing golf. He did end the Korean war, although not with a victory, but with a tense truce that still stands 50 years later. His only lasting accomplishment was building the Interstate highway system at the Pentagon's request so it could move a tank anywhere in the country at 50 miles/hour in the event of a Soviet invasion. Basically, times were good as returning WWII veterans started families, but the country was on autopilot for 8 years. Still the rankings are good material for discussion.

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