Several Key Senate Democrats Probably Want the GOP’s Scott Brown to Win the Massachusetts Special Election by Gregory Hilton

If State Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) wins the special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s vacancy on January 19th, several Democrats might be relieved. The Senate balance would become 59 to 41, and a few moderates would no longer be on the hot seat. They would not be pressured to provide the crucial 60th vote necessary to pass the health care reform bill and other legislation.
Among lawmakers who might breath a sign of relief if the GOP’s Brown wins are Senators Blanche Lincoln (AR), Ben Nelson (NE), Joe Lieberman (CT), Kent Conrad (ND), Mary Landrieu (LA) and Evan Bayh (IN).
These lawmakers worked as a team to stop the House passed version of the public option.
Lieberman spoke for many of them, “If the public option plan is in there, as a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote because I believe debt can break America and send us into a recession that’s worse than the one we’re fighting our way out of today.” The Senators won on the public option, Nelson and Landrieu cut lucrative side deals with Majority Leader Reid, but since then the lawmakers have had to cope with outraged voters back home.
Nelson is running 30% behind Gov. Dave Heineman (R-NE) in a hypothetical 2012 matchup, and has said it was a mistake to take up health care this year. Lincoln is 10 points behind her GOP challengers, and Lieberman has seen a 25% drop in his approval rating. It is no wonder all of these Senators are far from happy with the health care bill which passed the Senate.
The pressure on them to once again vote in favor of health care reform is enormous. Every one of these Senators has already made statements questioning the fiscal soundness of the bill. The lawmakers are also well aware of the gimmicks used to get the bill through the Senate. The increased taxes go into effect immediately but people will have to wait until 2014 for benefits. They also realize the bill is not deficit neutral, nor will it save money in the long run.
Finally, if Brown does win on Tuesday he should thank Senator John Kerry (D-MA). Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) was in office when Kerry began his 2004 presidential campaign. Democrats thought Kerry could win the presidential election, and they did not want Romney to have the power to appoint a Republican to fill a Senate vacancy until 2006. They changed the law to require a special election rather than a gubernatorial appointment in the event of a vacancy. If the law had not been changed Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA) could have immediately appointed a Democrat to fill Ted Kennedy’s vacancy.

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