Could Specter's Switch Affect Texas U.S. Senate Race?

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After U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter announced he would seek reelection as a Democrat, there is talk that his decision could have an affect on the upcoming U.S. Senate race here in Texas.

In January, Kay Bailey Hutchison had this to say to Politico:

“Really, I’m not going to have the impact [of giving Democrats 60 seats],” Hutchison said, moments after she held a long talk on the Senate floor with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “The impact is going to be the 2010 elections.” 

With Sen. Specter's switch and Al Franken's (assumed) eventual seating, a Hutchison resignation would no longer result is giving Democrats 60 seats.

So, does that mean Hutchison could resign earlier? At this point, who knows.

But it does mean that the past rationale for her staying in the Senate is no longer so cut and dry. Rick Perry has been able to consolidate and inspire more support among the most conservative of Texas Republicans, the exact group he will need huge support from to win next March's Republican Primary.

Now that Specter has flipped, could Hutchison resign her Senate seat later this year to come home to Texas to focus on reclaiming the once solid lead she held in the polls? 

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  1. Re-election more important than constitution?
    In March Specter said how important it was to stay Republican to maintain checks and balances;

    “I am staying a Republican because I think I have an important role, a more important role, to play there. The United States very desperately needs a two-party system. That's the basis of politics in America.  I think as a governmental matter, it is very important to have a check and balance. That's a very important principle in the operation of our government. In the constitution on Separation of powers.”

    But no quite so important as getting re-elected.  Think he a perfect fit.

    • Congress is always a check and balance
      SDHook:

      The Constitution was designed without parties in mind.  Congress is a check on the President even when controlled by the same party as the White House (unless that party is the 2000-2006 GOP).

      One of the main themes that the GOP will use this coming year and through the next elections is somehow that the Party of “NO” is the only party that can be a check and balance on Obama.

      To the contrary,

      First, as Democrats we should stand up for the fact that members of Congress have as their primary duty to be a  check on the Presidency even if the President is in your own Party.  One of the reasons that the Democrats controlled the Congress for so many decades after 1932 was because the Congress was an effective body even with a Democratic President.  Whether it is Kucinich and Feingold on the Left, of the Blue Dogs in the middle, we should strengthen the concept that we govern better when we all work to purify our ideas and insure they will work in the real world. One of the Reasons that the GOP is falling apart is that they did not check their own President for the 6 years of GOP control of the House during G.W. Bush's presidency.

      Second, the GOP is making itself into a toothless tiger.  By becoming the party of “No,” they have become the party of “No Consequences.”  Any robot can say, “No.”  It takes a mature member of the loyal opposition to engage the majority and make an impact.  By being naysayers, the GOP has become meaningless and shown themselves to be the party of immature thought.

      Third, by forcing the moderates out of their “big tent,” the GOP has guaranteed itself an electoral minority for years to come.  If Democrats can keep the moderates voting for us, we can govern for decades.  The way to do that is by focusing on practical governance, not ideology.  The way to sell any idea, progressive or not, is not be proving its ideological purity, but by showing that it will actually work in the real world and fix a real problem.  By focusing on whether ideas work or not, Congress serves as a natural check and balance.

      • You lost me at to the contrary. . .
        First, their primary duty is to support and defend the Constitution.  Unfortunately I think that has not been a priority for quite some time.  

        Second, being the party of NO only means they do not agree with a socialist agenda.  In fact by saying NO they are supporting and defending the Constitution.

        Third, we tried running a moderate during the last election.  All we saw was each candidate vying for votes by seeing who could promise the most. Politics 101; you can't out promise a Democrat.

      • So did Ronald Regan
        but this is not apples & apples. Specter in his press conference, in the first sentence, said he's doing it to get re-elected.  Re-election over Ideology  

  2. On Constitutionality
    The American institutions are not political in nature. One of the main effects of checks and balances is that they curb the negative effect of political parties and unchecked majorities. Also, KBH would greatly profit from an early return to TX.

  3. Special Election Dynamics
    It bears thinking about the dynamics of a special election.  If KBH can resign without handing the Democrats their 60 votes, as she will now be able to do once Franken is seated, why wouldn't she resign to run for Governor if indeed that is what she plans to do?  

    So that sets up a Special Election.  Assuming it's after the Legislative session is over, that probably means it's Sharp, White, and Dewhurst.  Dewhurst makes the runoff, one would think, but who has the best chance among the Democrats?  Seems to me that Dewhurst keeps most of his powder dry during the first run and saves most of it for the run off.  The two Democrats burn through all their money just to make the run off.  Democrats don't turn out as well in specials, etc.  I don't see a lot of Democratic advantages here, unfortunately.  

    • Just Dewhurst?
      It won't just be Dewhurst among Republicans and polling has shown Abbott is a stronger statewide candidate than Dewhurst. Perry will have to appoint someone to the seat and that will give them a significant advantage, also.

      • Follow Me On This
        Where is Abbot going to get money on short notice for a special election?  He's not independently wealthy.  Dewhurst can spend his own money.  I just don't see how anyone else can get competitive on the money quicly enough to compete with Dewhurst.  

        • I understand your point
          and its a good one, but Abbott is a proven fundraiser. His money was raised in state funds, so I am pretty sure it cant be used in a senate race, but he has shown he is a great fundraiser. He also could easily be the guy who Perry appoints. As an incumbent senator, Abbott would be a strong candidate among Republicans.

          Bill White just raised $2.6 million in 14 weeks when the date of election is unknown. Once the election is set, don't you think Abbott could raise good money, too?

          • Maybe
            I don't discount it, but I think it's going to be a long fight with a short stick.   But the issue that your bring up of an interim appointee is a good one.  Presumably the ability of the interim appointee to raise money would (or at least should be) the one of the first things that the Governor should think about (from his perspective).  So if he think Abbot can raise the money, he may well appoint Abbot.  I just think it's chancy for the Republicans to appoint someone who can't tap into his own deep pockets and assumed that they would therefore appoint Dewhurst.  

  4. KBH resign? No, that would change the filibuster…
    If there were temporarily only 98 senators, it would only take 59 to invoke cloture. KBH won't resign until after Franken is seated, if at all.

    Apologies if I've misunderstood.

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