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Senate GOP Faces Tough 2010

Here's a piece from the Fix for today's Post on the early retirement problems for Senate Republicans and what it could mean for the party's political future:

A spate of retirement announcements by Senate Republicans this year have further complicated attempts by GOP strategists to begin rebuilding a party devastated by across-the-board losses in recent elections.

The latest departure news came yesterday, when Sen. George V. Voinovich of Ohio said he has decided not to seek a third term in 2010, citing a desire to "step back and spend the rest of our time with our children and grandchildren." Voinovich joins Republican Sens. Sam Brownback (Kan.), Christopher S. Bond (Mo.) and Mel Martinez (Fla.) on the sidelines heading into the 2010 election. So far this year, no Democrats have announced plans to retire after the current Senate term.

The rapid pace of Republican retirement announcements has dispirited many in the party who thought the 2008 election, in which the party lost seven or eight seats (depending on the outcome of the Minnesota contest), marked the GOP's nadir.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), the No. 3 Republican leader, said the decisions by Voinovich, Martinez and Bond hurt the party both politically and legislatively. "We're losing three of our best players," said Alexander, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.

Continue reading on washingtonpost.com »

By Paul Volpe  |  January 13, 2009; 9:30 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Comments

The Republicans will continue to do themselves in. They are so hateful now and all they do is complain. FoxNews, HANIITY, RUSH LIM,O'reilly Factor and Geraldo make them look BAD. Thanks to those types of fokes and shows they will NEVER be back. They seem very biased against everyone and our popular President OBAMA.

Posted by: mattadamsdietmanager1014 | January 14, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Oh, I should clarify that when I refer to Repubs, I mean the party leadership and the Repub members of Congress.

Posted by: PeixeGato1 | January 13, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

bsimon1 writes:
"In short, the Repubs have to focus more on figuring out what they stand for, rather than hoping for a 'normal' midterm swing to the opposition party. If their hopes are built on the historical record, they're screwed."

The Repubs know what they stand for. The problem is, most of America does not agree with it. Even with these new people thrown out as possible "leaders of the future" for the Repub party, they are still ultra conservative, male, white (OK, they have a bench of conservative Cuban-Americans to turn to in Florida), and they all seem to be keen on continuing the "old" game of partisan politics. The mood of America has changed and the Repub party hasn't gotten that message yet. They still think that the "just say no to any Dem proposal and if the Dems don't back down, remind Americans that the sanctity of marriage is in danger, religion is under attack, and we are still entrenched in the 'war on terror'" plan will win them the support of the American people.

If they don't wake up, then in Eight years, Obama will have effectively killed the Repub party as a force in politics on a national level.

Posted by: PeixeGato1 | January 13, 2009 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Well, if the economic crisis worsens (as seems likely) and Republcans can persuasively lay blame on Obama and Pelosi (even if it's not in fact their fault), then they will have a potent message.

I don't dispute that the GOP has its work cut out for it. But I thought Chris' piece should at least have mentioned the historic tendency of midterm elections and the extreme volatility of the economy as potential factors pushing against the trend he was highlighting.

This is the silly season, the honeymoon, and 2010 is a political eternity from now...

Posted by: billmcg1 | January 13, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

"Don't be too quick to say that voters have rejected Republicanism; they have merely rejected Bush."

So what issues differentiate Bush and "Republicanism?" Other than immigration, AIDS spending, and education policy (at least as he initially spelled it out), Bush pushed exactly what Republicans have been talking about for years. What would you have wanted done differently? Foreign policy? Taxes? Social Security? What?

Posted by: kreuz_missile | January 13, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

MOswingvoter writes
"An open seat removes Bush-related liability, so as long as the party picks a clean, honest-looking candidate with a common-sense platform and no ties to Bush, there is no reason a Republican couldn't be elected to fill the seat"

The critical phrase in your response is 'common-sense platform'. It is not yet clear that the Repubs are interested in attracting moderate candidates with common-sense platforms. The critical factor may be the party base at a local level - who's voting in the primaries, the moderates, or the social conservatives who will impose a litmus test on potential candidates? Even if the national party recruits moderate candidates, will they be able to win a primary battle from the right? I think its too soon to tell.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 13, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Not if Carnahan is the nominee. You can forget about Missouri.
Voters have, in fact, rejected republicanism. That's why you see consistent 10 or more point gaps in partisan identification between the parties. It's not just Bush. People are leaving the party. Look at the registration numbers over the last few years.
Over the last two years no Senate Democrat has lost, only five in the House have. Four of those losses were in seats we flipped in 2006.
In other words, the only seat that has flipped from a Democrat to a republican in Congress the last two elections is LA-2 where Bill Jefferson is under federal indictment.
As long as that party's leaders continue to pander to its conservative base and not give more prudent (read: moderate) voters a reason to vote for their candidates, then religious conservatives will continue to exile their party into nonexistence.

Posted by: jdunph1 | January 13, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the "Republicans" en masse have to develop a rebranding in order to get elected in 2010. Remember the old adage that "all politics is local"?

Here in MO, just knowing that there are already 58-59 Dem senators makes a lot of people want to vote GOP. An open seat removes Bush-related liability, so as long as the party picks a clean, honest-looking candidate with a common-sense platform and no ties to Bush, there is no reason a Republican couldn't be elected to fill the seat. Particularly since we now have one Dem senator and a Dem governor; a GOP senator is a no-brainer.

Don't be too quick to say that voters have rejected Republicanism; they have merely rejected Bush. The two are not synonymous, and it helps the party to have the guy out of the picture.

Posted by: MOswingvoter | January 13, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

At this point the goal for Democrats should be to get to 70 seats. We have excellent pickup opportunities in Missouri, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky, Kansas, and North Carolina. With any combination of more retirements, resignations, and good recruiting on our part we can win Iowa, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Texas, and Alaska.
Some pundits are suggesting we could get to 60. Maybe Chris will be the first to recognize and state that we could have 70 Democratic senators after 2010.

Posted by: jdunph1 | January 13, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

RickJ writes
"It's going to take more than one or two election cycles for the Republicans to develop a cogent theme that is not based on 'no' or 'me too'"

I tend to agree. The reality of the election cycle is that the GOP has to reorganize and rebrand within 10 to 12 months if they want to regain ground in 2010. In the meantime, voters are expecting the gov't to take action & work proactively to address the economy. They need to focus first on helping solve the problems we face & reestablish credibility as an effective party; once that happens they can start thinking more about regaining seats in Congress & making a play to regain the White House.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 13, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Republicans will face a hard time in 2010, particularly if they are seen as blocking Obama's ability to navigate the US through this financial crisis...

W has damaged the 'brand' for years to come and as pointed out, Republicans are having a hard time recruiting candidates. Wistfully remembering the Reagan years will accomplish nothing as it will have been 30 years (by 2010) since that ship sailed...

It's going to take more than one or two election cycles for the Republicans to develop a cogent theme that is not based on 'no' or 'me too'

Posted by: RickJ | January 13, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

billmcg1 writes
"you didn't even mention the history of midterm elections going against the White House. Hard as it is to believe today, we could be seeing anti-Obama backlash and serious economic crisis by next fall -- especially in places like Ohio, Missouri, and Florida."

While that's entire possible, and perhaps likely, in order for there to be a backlash against the party holding the white house, the opposition party has to have an effective message on which to run. If the GOP wants to enjoy a midterm resurgence in Congress, they need to figure out what they stand for - right now the party leadership (such as it is) seems to be inclined to roll back the clock and become the 'party of Reagan' again. Problem is it is 2008 not 1980. Gingrich's revolution in 1994 was built on a 'throw the bums out' program that was an effective message for the times - the Dems in control of Congress at the time needed to be thrown out. But can the repubs make that sale in time for the 2010 elections? Try as they might, they're having a hard time placing blame for the manifold crises we face on the Dems. Meanwhile, if the Repubs only response to the President's initiatives over the next 2 years are only 'no', will the voters reward them & send more repubs to congress? Or will they blame gridlock on the Repubs rather than the president?

In short, the Repubs have to focus more on figuring out what they stand for, rather than hoping for a 'normal' midterm swing to the opposition party. If their hopes are built on the historical record, they're screwed.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 13, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Chris:

Personally I hope you are right, but you didn't even mention the history of midterm elections going against the White House. Hard as it is to believe today, we could be seeing anti-Obama backlash and serious economic crisis by next fall -- especially in places like Ohio, Missouri, and Florida.

Posted by: billmcg1 | January 13, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

It looks almost impossible for Republicans to reclaim the Senate in 2010. They're defending more seats than the Democrats, and they're having trouble recruiting candidates. Even if the Democrats royally screw up the next 2 years, the Republicans still aren't likely to pick up enough seats.

Posted by: Blarg | January 13, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

PLEA TO OBAMA: CANCEL RISKY, RECKLESS 'SITTING DUCK' TRAIN STUNT


• What happened to Homeland Security warnings of "heightened risk" during Presidential transition?

• How about the late November FBI warning about possible Northeast train station attacks?

• "Amtrak Joe" Biden's longstanding warnings about security flaws along the Amtrak Northeast corridor -- why isn't he waving this whistle stop tour to a halt?

READ THIS LINK AND MAKE IT VIRAL. PLEASE DO IT NOW:


http://my.nowpublic.com/world/plea-obama-cancel-risky-reckless-sitting-duck-train-stunt

OR (if link is DEACTIVATED or corrupted):

http://My.NowPublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | January 13, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

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