I can't imagine Sarah Palin, Jim DeMint and the Tea Party Express are indifferent to the Senate. More to the point, I'm presuming that they, like most of the rest of us, recognize the need to have a filibuster-proof Senate at some point in the near-future, in order to REPEAL Obamacare.
So, if Sarah Palin and Jim DeMint and the Tea Party Express are willing to toss away a Senate seat in Delaware...then it stands to reason they have other plans for getting to 60 votes before 2014, when Obamacare really kicks in.
Here's a look at 2012---do you see a sure-fire path to 60 votes here?
(As a side note, I also presume the Tea Party Express' members understand there's power in the majority in the Senate. You control committees, the flow (or stoppage) of legislation, the calendar, etc... If nothing else, a Senate Judiciary Committee with Jeff Sessions in charge instead of Patrick Leahy will most likely NOT give thumbs-up to a young version of Ruth Bader Ginzburg, assuming the older version retires in the last two years of---what we all hope will be---the last opportunity for a liberal President to nominate a SCOTUS justice in a long time. But that's a discussion we've already had in length on these boards...)
Of course, we're not going to get to 60 votes this year. Instead, we can build as many seats as we can this year, and look to 2012 to get us to 60.
Jay Cost, over at the Weekly Standard's blog, lists these seats where Democrats will be on defense in 2012:
California, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
I count 18 seats.
Now, assuming the worst-case scenario of Jim Geraghty comes to pass, and Senator-elect Coons gives the Dems the 50th seat they need to maintain control of the Senate in the next Congress...then we need 10 seats in 2012 to get to the magic 60. That means we need 10 of those 18; that also assumes we won't lose any of the ones we currently hold---such as John Ensign's seat in Nevada.
Here are some likely R pickups, assuming the electorate is still mad at the Obama administration and the Dems in 2012:
- Nebraska (Ben Nelson)
- Florida (Bill Nelson)
- Missouri (Claire McCaskill)
- Virginia (Jim Webb)
- Montana (Jon Tester)
That's five. The others---I'm not so sure about.
- New Mexico (Jeff Binghaman)---NM is a purple state at best. But, for the sake of discussion, let's put that in the R column. That gets us to 56 seats.
- Minnesota (Amy Klobuchar)---perhaps the Minnesota electorate unseats her, out of guilt for having "elected" Al Franken? OK; now we're up to 57
- North Dakota (Kent Conrad). I could see Conrad going down in a GOP wave, which I'm presuming that the Tea Party Express thinks we'll be riding in 2012. OK...that's 58.
- Ohio (Sherrod Brown). If Ohio's still mad in 2012 at the Dems, and the GOP recruits a good candidate (Ken Blackwell?), perhaps this means we'll have TWO GOP Senators (Portman plus Insert Name Here) in 2013. OK---that's 59.
That leaves one more seat to get, which could plausibly come from any of the following places:
- Wisconsin. (Herb Kohl retiring?).
- Michigan. (Debbie Stabenow has never been strong and Michigan's economy will still probably stink by then)
- New York (Kirsten Gillebrand will have to run again in 2012)
- West Virginia (Ditto for Joe Manchin)
For me, there are way too many ifs in that scenario. The key one---many of the pickups we need would have to come from purple states. I don't expect the Dems to roll over and die; we didn't in December of 2008, after absorbing a cataclysmic electoral shellacking. I don't expect the unions, Hollywood and George Soros to go broke either, so the Dems will have plenty of money.
Plus, if the Rs appear to be rolling to a Presidential victory and expanded Senate majorities in 2012, expect a wide call for "maintaining balance," by preserving enough of a Democratic minority in the Senate to execute a filibuster.
To kill Obamacare, we have to be able to stop a filibuster. Expect the remaining Dems in the Senate to hold onto Obamacare like a life preserver. We'll have to tear it from their hands.
In that case, can we really afford to toss aside a Senate seat, in order to make a statement to "The Establishment?"
If you answer "yes" to that last question, get ready to live with Obamacare. Or, find another path to 60 votes.