Aug. 26 absentee ballot for overseas voters

Senate Dem 59   GOP 40  
House Dem 256   GOP 178  

Map of the 2010 Senate Races
Downloadable polling data
Previous report
Next report

strong Dem Strong Dem
weak Dem Weak Dem
barely Dem Barely Dem
tied Exactly tied
barely GOP Barely GOP
weak GOP Weak GOP
strong GOP Strong GOP
Map algorithm explained
Senate polls today: (None) RSS
Dem pickups (vs. 2004): PA GOP pickups (vs. 2004): (None) PDA

PW logo Biden on Kennedy Kennedy's Memoir Out Next Month
Perfect Happiness Texas Executed Innocent Man
Unknown Challengers in Dead Heat with Lincoln Top Bush Adviser Contradicts Cheney

News from the Votemaster

Ted Kennedy Died Last Night     Permalink

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), one of the most influential senators in decades, has died of brain cancer. Obituaries can be found at Washington Post, NY Times, LA Times, USA Today and every other news outlet. Most of the stories focus on his life and that of his slain brothers. But the political angle is what happens to his seat in the Senate. Just last week he called for the Massachusetts state legislature to once again change Massachusetts law to give the governor, currently Deval Patrick (D-MA), the power to make temporary appointments until a special election can be held in late January to replace Kennedy. Without Kennedy, the Democrats do not have the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture, which could completely derail their health reform package. Thus all of a sudden, the fate of the health care bill depends on the Massachusetts state legislature.

The problem there isn't a lack of votes. Democrats dominate both houses of the state legislature and the governor, a Democrat, certainly wouldn't veto a bill giving him appointment power. The problem is that the legislature and the governor don't get along very well and the legislature may be hesitant to give the governor new power. Another issue is who he would appoint. The succession law was changed in 2004 to prevent then-governor Mitt Romney from appointing a Republican to the seat of Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) in the event that he won the presidency. The argument was that the people, not the governor, should decide who their senator is. Now the legislature would have to backtrack and would not want the appointee to have an edge in the upcoming special election. Some people have suggested that the governor appoint an older person who would not be interested in running for the Senate. One name that has surfaced is that of former Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis. After possibility is Kennedy's wife, Vicki, although she has said she wasn't really interested in the job.

For the next week, nothing will happen in public view because the legislature is not in session and will not return until after labor day. But the cell phones will be buzzing, make no mistake. Republican leaders in the state legislature have already denounced the idea of changing the law.

Further down the road is the special election, which the legislature certainly will not abolish. Massachusetts has 10 Democratic representatives in the House, the best known of whom are Barney Frank and Edward Markey. There are also plenty of ambitious Democrats holding state offices. There are also numerous younger Kennedys who might be interested in upholding the family tradition. Ted's son, Patrick Kennedy, is already in the House (in Rhode Island), for example. A primary will be held 6 weeks before the general election, most likely in late November or early December. While some Republicans may run for the seat, they have virtually no chance of winning in such a blue state as Massachusetts (although Massachusetts does elect Republican governors from time to time).

Real Choice in Health Care is Off Limits     Permalink

While there is a huge battle going on concerning the "public option" in health care, the presence or absence of a weak government plan for a tiny fraction of Americans really does nothing for the vast majority of people who basically are stuck with whatever their employer offers. These companies are effectively monopolies and behave as such. A far more comprehensive reform would force real competition between private health insurance companies. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), actually introduced such a bill, but it is getting nowhere. Too many big players do not want competition, not from a weak government plan and certainly not from strong insurance companies. Real competition would drive prices, profits, and CEO salaries down, and nobody in the business wants that. What's really odd about Wyden's bill is that one might naively expect the Republicans to be offering it as an alternative--a way to improve health care and keep down prices and based entirely on a private sector solution. But such is not the case.

If you like this Website, tell your friends. You can also share by clicking this button  

-- The Votemaster