THE SOLID SOUTH
Kevin Drum correctly notes that the retirement of John Breaux–bringing to five the number of Senate Democrats not seeking re-election next year–likely ends any chance the Democrats had of retaking a majority in Congress “for a long time.”
As to the Executive Branch,
It’s possible that a Democrat can win the presidency without the South — Al Gore almost did it — but Congress is out of reach unless we’re at least competitive there. This is one among several reasons that I support Wesley Clark’s candidacy: I think he can help us win congressional races in the South. Howard Dean may have had the right idea with his pickups and Confederate flag remark, but Clark is the guy who can actually pull it off.
I’m not sure Clark could do it, either, but I agree that Dean can’t. Add to that the fact that, if Bush sweeps the South again, he’ll increase his advantage since that region has picked up several Electoral votes owing to the 2002 reapportionment.
As I noted yesterday, George W. Bush is seeking to make history: We haven’t had back-to-back presidents elected to two terms since Madison and Monroe.* If the Dean Express isn’t derailed, it’s looking like Madison and Monroe are about to be joined by Clinton and Bush.
*Indeed, they were part of a three-peat, since they followed Thomas Jefferson. Aside from that triumvarate, there have been no other back-to-backs in U.S. history.
Update: As Craig Henry notes in the comments, Lincoln and Grant were elected to consecutive back-to-back terms; unfortunately, an assassin’s bullet disqualified them since Andrew Johnson’s partial term split them. And, as I noted yesterday, FDR actually pulled this off three times by himself if we don’t require that it be two different presidents; I do.
FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004
THE SOLID SOUTH
Donald Lambro puts some numbers to something most of us suspected:
The battle for control of the Senate next year has dramatically shifted in favor of Republicans because of Democratic retirements across the South and high-level White House recruiting.
Election analysts now believe that the Republicans will not only significantly expand their 51-48 Senate majority by two or three seats, and possibly more, but will strengthen the Republican Party’s growing political dominance in the Southern and border states for the remainder of this decade.
The 100th seat is held by a Democrat-leaning independent.
The senatorial lineup in the 13 Southern and border states currently stands at 19 Republicans and seven Democrats.
The four Senate Democrats who have announced they will not seek re-election are Sens. Zell Miller of Georgia, who says he will support Mr. Bush next year; presidential candidate John Edwards of North Carolina; Bob Graham of Florida, who abandoned his candidacy for the White House; and Ernest F. Hollings of South Carolina, who is ending his sixth term and a 38-year career in office.
They could be joined by a fifth Democrat, Sen. John B. Breaux of Louisiana, who has yet to say whether he will seek a fourth term amid widespread speculation that he will step down.
“If the Republicans win Senate seats in the Carolinas and Georgia next year (all quite possible), they’ll hold all of the U.S. Senate seats in seven contiguous Southern states starting in Virginia and stretching around to Mississippi,” elections analyst Stuart Rothenberg wrote in Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper.
Meanwhile, two Republican senators also have announced that they will not seek re-election: Sens. Don Nickles of Oklahoma and Peter G. Fitzgerald of Illinois, a heavily Democratic state.
Democratic strategists say that Mr. Fitzgerald’s seat is their best shot at a pickup next year, along with that of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Republican, who has been fighting charges of nepotism after her father, Gov. Frank H. Murkowski, appointed her to finish his unexpired term.
Lambro looks in detail at several races in the piece.
The GOP should indeed build on its majority, although it almost certainly won’t get to the 60 seats needed to be essentially filibuster proof. And, frankly, I almost hope Murkowski loses. Her father’s abuse of the governorship to appoint her to the Senate was despicable.
(Hat tip: Kevin McGeehee)