Three major bombshells hit the national political scene yesterday, as Democrat senators Byron Dorgan (North Dakota) and Chris Dodd (Connecticut) and Democrat governor Bill Ritter (Colorado) all dropped their re-election campaigns.
In all three cases it seems likely that their seats will flip to the Republican Party this fall. Dorgan was behind current North Dakota governor John Hoeven by 22 points (without Hoeven even making an announcement that he’d be running until yesterday), Dodd was behind former congressman Rob Simmons by a double-figure margin and Ritter was losing to Scott McInnis in latest polling.
Yesterday’s revelations follow last month’s news of Rep. Parker Griffith’s party switch to the GOP; the Alabama congressman represented the dying breed of “Blue Dog” Democrats in Congress. Several other Democrat congressmen had announced last year they’ll be retiring – Brian Baird of Washington, Dennis Moore of Kansas and John Tanner of Tennessee. In each case it appears likely that their seats will flip Republican at the next election.
News Monday that a Rasmussen poll in Massachusetts has Scott Brown within nine points of Martha Coakley in the special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s U.S. Senate seat, including Brown pulling within the margin of error among those respondents saying they are sure to vote in the Jan. 19 contest, adds even more evidence to the clear indication that 2010 will be a turkey shoot for the Democrat Party.
The internet, unsurprisingly, is burning with discussion of these developments. At RealClearPolitics.com, Dick Morris suggests that what we are seeing is the formation of a clear dichotomy between the two parties as a two-step process of extinction is completing itself. According to Morris, the 1990’s and early 2000’s saw the electoral death of the Rockefeller Republicans and RINO’s in the House and Senate. Gone are the Bob Packwoods, Jim Jeffordses, Lincoln Chaffees and Arlen Specters, who could no longer get elected as Republicans. Morris doesn’t mention it, but even John McCain is threatened for re-election in Arizona should arch-conservative J.D. Hayworth opt to run against him.
And, as he mentions, we are now seeing the end of the “Blue Dog” or, as he styles them, “center-right” Democrats. Morris takes a bit of credit for his role in creating Bill Clinton as a moderate, centrist Democrat – but as he notes the Clinton years are finished and the centrist Democrats like Griffith or Tanner or Dorgan are going away as well.
As a result, the electorate will be in a position to make clear choices between statist Democrats like Harry Reid (in deep trouble in Nevada) or Barbara Boxer (threatened in California) and staunch conservatives like Pat Toomey (ascendant in Pennsylvania) and Marco Rubio (rising in Florida). With self-identified conservatives outnumbering “liberals” by a 2-to-1 margin nationally, clear distinctions will benefit conservative Republicans over liberal Democrats in the majority of cases.
In Rubio’s case, the power of the movement he’s leading in the Sunshine State was seen yesterday when Jim Greer, chairman of the Florida GOP and a close ally of RINO governor Charlie Crist, stepped down. Greer had been under fire for months after he threw the full weight of the state party’s apparatus behind the Crist campaign for Senate, but Rubio’s grass-roots efforts, constitutional conservative message and work ethic on the campaign trail have brought him into a statistical dead heat with Crist anyway. Rubio has the momentum in the race, Crist the money. And on the Democrat side, the likely nominee is Rep. Kendrick Meek, a left-winger from the Miami area with limited appeal outside the black community.
ABC’s Rich Klein explores the current environment in detail, noting also that the top Democrat contender for governor in Michigan has now backed out and virtually assured that state will have a Republican governor next year. Klein says that the conventional wisdom surrounding Dodd’s dropout makes for a better chance the Democrats might hold that seat; Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat who was humiliated nine months ago on the Glenn Beck show over his attempts to prosecute AIG employees for taking contracted-for bonuses during last year’s faux scandal, is announcing today he’ll run.
They’re even discussing the potential earthquake across the pond. The UK Telegraph’s Toby Harmden analyzes the 2010 Senate races and concludes that an outside chance of GOP control over the Senate exists, though what is more likely is a 52-48 or 51-49 Democrat majority next year. Meanwhile, the Washington Times says Republican candidate recruitment is fast and furious thanks to outrage over last year’s legislative machinations.
What it all adds up to is something we’ve been saying on this blog for months – the GOP is going to get another opportunity at power in Washington. The question is whether the party is capable of exercising that power in a worthy fashion. Americans want more freedom, less government an end to the explosion in federal debt and a return to the original principles of the Constitution. Will this rising Republican tide satisfy those cravings?