The Democrats could get a super-majority yet

During last year’s US elections, Democrat supporters weren’t just watching the margin by which Barack Obama beat John McCain. They were also hoping to see their party gain 60 seats in the United States Senate. While they were assured of a majority, 60 votes are necessary to override “fillibusters” – speeches by opposition politicians that go on so long that a law never comes to a vote. With a 60 senators or more, the Democrats would be able to avoid these stalling tactics by passing a motion moving to a vote.

Democrats picked up the seats they wanted in North Carolina, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, New Mexico, New Hampshire and Virginia. However, that took them to just 58. Hopes of ousting Mitch McConnell, Republican Senate leader, in Kentucky were unmet. Even though the battle in Minnesota – still dogged by recounts and legal challenges today – has looked more and more likely to go to Democrat Al Franken, they would be tantalizingly short of their 60 seats.

As things stand, they have just 59 seats. But today there were rumours, reported by the Huffington Post, that Obama may appoint senior New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg as his Secretary of Commerce. Gregg, a Republican, has since admitted that he is under consideration for the post. He would vacate his senate seat if chosen and his successor would be chosen by appointment rather than a by-election. The Democrats would have had a good shot at winning a by-election in New Hampshire, but they don’t have to: the Governor, John Lynch, is a Democrat and could replace him with one of his own party.

So, Obama may be about to secure a so-called “super majority” in the Senate after all.

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6 Comments

  • I always wanted Obama to be elected & he has impressed me more & more.

    However, it is vital that a strong opposition emerges as soon as possible. All governments must be opposed vigorously. Obama is less vulnerable to hubris than most, as he is much more guided by the facts & his moral compass than Bliar ever was, but he isn’t some magic exception to the rule.

    I live in hope that the sane elements of the GOP, if any of them have withstood Bush & Palin’s assault, will make themselves known soon.

    Obama is a big enough man not to have an obsession with being supreme ruler & having all his own way, he wants to test his mettle & prove himself worthy against opposition.

    We suffered in this country between 1979-87 & 1997-2005 from the lack of effective opposition &, while I don’t think America is at as much risk as we were then, I am still against Democrat dominance of everything.

  • 538.com also queries whether hitting 60 Senators is all good news for the Dems themselves. And I seem to remember Francis Pym bemoaning his own party’s landslide in ’83, bless him.

  • Excellent points, Andy Hinton. Another fissure, which is not often talked about by is likely to make itself known, is between unions, “liberals” (in the US sense) & greens in the Democrat party. The former will often oppose matters which the latter two support, & the latter will probably prevail, but don’t expect unions to be celebrating over it.

    I am very slightly disquieted by Obama’s technocratic, bipartisan approach. I’m ecstatic at the end of the war on science & the appointment of the best wo/man for the job, but there is always a danger. Chile was the ultimate technocracy. There’s no danger of the USA going the same way, but it may not produce optimum results.

    Obama pinned McCain into a corner by forcing him to take a me-too approach, which didn’t work, but the Palin way would have been even more of a wipeous. I suppose it was Bush’s legacy which made this happen.

    As I said, I’m very optimistic about Obama & view him much more positively than I did in about September sort of time. My criticisms are very minor.

    We’ll see 🙂

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