Choice of Edwards Weakens Senate Democrats

David Freddoso makes an interesting observation:

Sen. John Kerry’s (D.-Mass.) selection of Sen. John Edwards (D.-N.C.) as his running mate has one possible consequence that few have noticed: it gives Republicans a slightly greater edge in the U.S. Senate.

Kerry has already missed roughly 90% of all Senate votes this year, and occasionally his absence has made a difference. Now add Edwards’ absence, and suddenly it matters a lot more. Republicans could now be in a position to resurrect and pass their concurrent budget resolution, which had all but died in the Senate. It is less likely, but the newly skewed balance of Senate power could also lead to passage of other legislation. It will almost certainly prevent liberals from breaking conservative filibusters and points of order against their spending initiatives as appropriations begin. Conversely, if Republicans are ruthless enough, they can schedule votes to force one or both of the running mates back to Washington at the most inopportune moments.

Certainly, they’re ruthless enough. I find rejiggering the voting schedule to impact the presidential campaign distateful. It is, however, in line with the increasingly nasty tenor of congressional politics over the last 15-20 years. On the other hand, I feel little sympathy for the Democrats if Kerry and Edwards miss scheduled votes. They’ve sworn an oath to do their duty as Senators–which consists almost entirely of showing up and voting–and neither has done so lately. Perhaps both should “do a Bob Dole” and resign their seats if they’re going to devote full time to the presidential race. Edwards is retiring in January regardless and Kerry would leave an empty seat if he wins.

(via Memeorandum)

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.