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House Dem 256   GOP 177  

Map of the 2010 Senate Races
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PW logo Extreme Anonymity Quote of the Day
Obama Approval on the Rise Christie Holds Narrow Lead Over Corzine
DeLay Steps Down... from Dance Show Is Castle Running Ahead Only on Name Recognition?

News from the Votemaster

Castle Running for the Senate     Permalink

The Republicans got great news yesterday: Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) is running for Delaware's open Senate seat in 2010. All of a sudden this Democratic seat is in play. Castle has been in politics for 40 years and never lost an election. His likely opponent is Joe Biden's son, Beau Biden, currently Delaware's Attorney General.

While Castle is widely respected in the state and has universal name recognition there, he is not a shoo-in. For one thing, he would be 71 at his swearing in to a chamber where you need 20 years seniority to acquire any real power. In contrast, Biden would be 41 at swearing in. For a second thing, while the GOP may pick up Senate seats in 2010, no serious observer expects the Democrats to lose control of the chamber, so a Sen. Castle would be in the minority and a Sen. Biden would be in the majority, with friends in high places. Biden could imply he would be better at delivering pork to his state. And Biden could get both the President and Vice President to campaign for him, not a bad thing in a very blue state. Still, at this point, the race has to be called a tossup.

Ironically, it is the Democrats' fault that they now have a real problem in Delaware. When Joe Biden resigned to become Vice President, then-governor Ruth Minner appointed a placeholder, Ted Kaufman, to keep the seat warm for Beau, and then exit gracefully in 2010. If she had appointed the lieutenant governor, John Carney, it is very unlikely Castle would have entered the race against an incumbent Democrat. But the open seat made it much easier for Castle.

But the Democrats do have one consolation: they will almost certainly pick up Castle's House seat because the state is so blue and the Republican bench is so thin there.

Health-Care Reform Inches Forward     Permalink

Every so slowly, the health-care bill in the Senate is moving closer to a vote. The Senate Finance Committee bill will probably come up for a committee vote next week. In expectation of it passing, the Senate leadership is already working on merging the bill, which does not have a public option, with the HELP bill, which does. There is likely to be a big fight about the merged bill. Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and the next two highest ranked Democrats in the caucus, Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) as well as the chairman of the HELP committee, Tom Harkin (D-IA), all favor the public option, but the chairman of the Finance Committee, Max Baucus (D-MT), does not. This could lead to a fight between Baucus and the others. Baucus' argument will undoubtedbly be that half a dozen conservative Democrats won't vote for a bill with a public option, so the Democrats won't be able to win a cloture vote. Of course Reid could try to pass the bill using the budget reconciliation procedure, something that Ronald Reagan and George Bush used repeatedly, but the process is messy and Reid would come in for withering criticism if he tried, and Lyndon Johnson he's not.

The easiest way out for Reid is to pass the ball to President Obama and let him decide if he is willing to go all out for the public option. That way, Reid won't get the blame one way or another and his opponent won't be able to nail him on it quite so easily in his reelection campaign in 2010.

Corzine Catches Up in New Jersey     Permalink

A new poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University shows that Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) has caught up to his challenger, Chris Christie (R) in the New Jersey gubernational race. A Rasmussen poll also puts it within the margin of error, with Christie ahead 47% to 44%. The election is less than a month away and Christie had been leading by double digits all year. Corzine has been running very nasty ads attacking Christie for being too fat and a whole bunch of other things and they seem to have worked. It is going to get uglier from here to election day.

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