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Dividing the Democrats

December 22, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

The Politico has a story today explaining how Republicans in the Senate are planning to split the Democrats next year to block legislation rather than focus on holding their own party together. Republicans had great success blocking legislation in the last session of Congress by voting as a solid block against cloture motions, which require a 60-vote majority to overcome. But with a Democratic majority of either 58-42 or 59-41 in the 111th (depending on the outcome of the Minnesota recount), that strategy isn’t going to work. On most cloture votes in the last session, a handful of Republicans would cross the aisle and vote with the Democrats.

>Senate Republicans say they’re ready to work across the aisle with Barack Obama, but it’s not exactly a mission of mercy: Republicans senators hope to dodge charges of obstructionism — and they won’t mind if they drive a wedge between Obama and congressional Democrats in the process.
>"In our quest to do good policy, we’re going to find a lot more areas of commonality with Obama than we are with House and Senate Democrats," said one senior Senate GOP aide. “When Obama and congressional Republicans do work together, the byproduct of that is in-fighting on the left.”
>If Obama and the GOP broker deals that split Democrats in Congress, it could create the same sort of disarray that contributed to the collapses of the GOP majority ahead of the 2006 midterm elections and the Democratic majority in 1994.

Look for freshman Democrats from states that switched parties in the November elections – Jeanne Sheehan (D-NH), Mark Begich (D-AK), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tom Udall (D-NM), Mark Udall (D-CO) and Mark Warner (D-VA) – to be primary targets for Republicans to try to pick off. Even though their states have been trending blue in the past couple cycles, there’s probably going to be some insecurity among them about their constituents’ support for liberal causes.

And in case you’re wondering, the key Republicans that Democrats will be looking to for cross-over support:

Sen. Arlen Specter [R, PA]
Sen. Olympia Snowe [R, ME]
Sen. Susan Collins [R, ME]

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