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Author Rating: 0 Topic: Senate Picks in NY, CO, and IL Put Pressure on Obama (Read 650 times)
jwilkes

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« Reply #0: Jan 24, 2009, 6:02 AM »
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At least in Delaware, state voters will probably have a known Democrat on the ballot. The state will begin 2009 without a Biden in office for the first time in more than 35 years, with their longtime Senator now in Washington in the Office of the Vice President. But in all likelihood, it won’t be for long. Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden (who is now serving in Iraq) will be returning to run for his father’s seat in 2010. The man who was appointed to fill the post in the meantime, longtime Biden chief of staff Ted Kauffman, has already announced that he won’t seek reelection.

But in states like New York, Colorado, and Illinois, voters will be dealing with unknown quantities. Just yesterday, New York Governor David Paterson announced that Rep. Kirsten Gellibrand (who only took office in 2006) would replace newly-confirmed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Colorado Governor Bill Ritter tapped Michael Bennet (who has never had or sought public office) to replace Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. And of course, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich selected Roland Burris (a man who has been out of office since the early 90s) to replace President Barack Obama.

Two of those states- Illinois and New York- are Democratic strongholds. But each has elected Republican statewide officials in the not-so-distant past. In New York, Republican George Pataki was Governor up until 2006, and New York City has had a Republican Mayor since 1994. In Illinois, Barack Obama’s immediate predecessor prior to his taking office in 2004 was Peter Fitzgerald, also a Republican.

But even with their recent history of backing Democratic candidates, the choice of less-than popular Senate appointees will test the party’s relationship with voters. Roland Burris is put at a major disadvantage by virtue of his connection to the indicted governor of his state. If he runs for reelection in 2010 (it’s not clear that, at 71, he will seek more time in office- in fact, he may have pledged not to do so in order to gain Senate Democrats’ approval to seat him), he’ll have to convince the voters of his state to look past the cloud of corruption that brought him into office. While it’s not impossible for Burris- he’s more than qualified to hold the office- another Democrat who wasn’t carrying Blagojevich’s baggage would have been a sure bet for reelection.

New York should be another sure-thing for Democrats. But in replacing Clinton, Paterson made an unconventional choice in Kirstin Gillibrand. Former Chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chuck Schumer- who engineered two straight slaughtering of Senate Republicans in 2006 and 2008- pushed hard for Gillibrand, which would likely be enough to convince any governor. But still, Gillibrand is largely unknown outside her district, and has infuriated liberal Democrats with her moderate stances on issues like gun ownership. But Schumer insists that having a woman from upstate was of vital importance, and Gillibrand fit’s the bill. If she can spend the next 20 months or so hammering her name into the minds of New York voters, she’ll be well on her way to winning her special election bid. But that’s a big if.

The third state, Colorado, is decidedly trickier. It’s conversion to the Democratic side is incredibly recent. In most presidential election years, it tends to sends its electoral votes to the GOP candidate, but bucked the trend and sent them to Obama instead in 2008. It’s also very recently elected back-to-back Democratic governors, as well as two Democratic Senators and a few new Congressmen. Continuing to win in the Rocky Mountain State depends on putting top notch candidates on the ballot. In that respect, it’s totally unclear how strong Michael Bennet will be. He’s never run a campaign before, and his inexperience will leave the sharks from the GOP smelling blood. If he doesn’t run a near-perfect campaign, he’ll be forced to run in a neck and neck dogfight right up to election day.

All of this adds up to a very interesting scenario for Barack Obama, as well as the Democratic Congress. While hopes are high for most of the nation, so are expectations- perhaps even unrealistically so. If Obama and his party fail to show substantial progress by the time the next election comes around (a difficult task for a brand new president), voters might not have the patience to continue to deliver growing majorities in Congress.

That puts the pressure on Obama. So far, he’s done exceptionally well. And if he can keep the next 700 days action packed, full of announcements and signs of a rebounding economy, the electorate will reward Democrats accordingly. But 2010 is a long ways away, and Obama will have to get through the first 7 days first.

Guest-dhendrix1

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« Reply #1: Jan 24, 2009, 3:55 PM »
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the pressure has to be on these individuals to perform as well. If they are not what the constituents want, then they should recruit someone to run a primary election against them in 2010. In New York & Illinios specifically, there have already been people announcing that they will run against the appointees, so it looks like to me that the pressure is on them to win the seat instead of pressure on Obama to win it for them.
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