Having 60 Votes Does Matter

Earlier this week over at Open Left Matt Stoller started up a bit of a discussion with a post in which he was less than excited (to put it mildly) by Mark Warner's decision to run for the United States Senate in Virginia. For those unfamiliar with the post, Stoller called the announcement video"disgusting[ly] Lieberman-esque" and wrote that Warner will "be a bad Senator." Stoller stepped back a bit in updates, but maintained his "skepticism."

I think this ties in well with a broader conversation going on within the netroots and progressive circles about whether it is better to exclusively support candidates who are with us on most every issue and who speak and act in ways that forward the movement, or to support candidates who may not be with all of the time and/or who may speak and act in ways that don't always forward the movement if the election of those candidates would help the Democrats get closer to 60 votes in the United States Senate. This debate pertains also to Nebraska, where it appears that Bob Kerrey, who is hawkish on the war and has shown a willingness in the past to to deviate from the progressive line, is eyeing a return to the United States Senate. To a lesser extent it also applies to Democratic primaries in states like Oregon and New Hampshire, where the establishment pick is not by any means bad (in fact in both cases fairly progressive) but where there is also a strong grassroots candidate in the mix.

I definitely feel an understanding for those who are reluctant to support Democratic candidates who do not, in and of themselves, advance the cause and who, in fact, might in their own way seemingly set things back, perhaps by voting with Republicans on key or even symbolic issues, perhaps by going on Fox News and speaking ill of fellow party members. I also understand and relate to the sentiment that it's important to elect Democrats who are "right" on the issues.

But at the same time, I can't minimize the importance of having 60 votes in the United States Senate. That's right -- 60 votes, a filibuster-proof majority. No GOP obstruction of progressive jurists to the federal bench, no Republican filibuster of legislation ending the Iraq War or creating a universal healthcare system. For the first time in decades the Democrats could have a truly working majority in Congress.

While some members of the Democratic majorities might not be with us on every issue, they would no doubt -- no doubt -- be with us a greater portion of the time than the Republicans they would be replacing. And for the vast majority of the time, most of these members would be with us.

Perhaps if a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate were not in reach I would think differently. But 60 votes is attainable, if not this cycle than between 2008 and 2010. With Kerrey in the race, the Democrats have in their sights four Republican seats that probably lean pickup (Nebraska, New Hampshire, Virginia and Colorado, in no particular order). The next tier of solid pickup opportunities includes Oregon, Maine, Minnesota and Alaska, assuming a run by Mark Begich (again, in no particular order). Winning those eight seats while not losing a Democratic-held seat this cycle (Mary Landrieu in Louisiana is vulnerable, but less so than any of the GOP incumbents in the states listed above) would put the Democrats at 59 seats, one seat away from the magical 60-seat threshold. Winning just one more race in a state like Oklahoma, Kansas, Kentucky or North Carolina, a feat that would be remarkably difficult but not impossible, would put the Democrats at 60. And even if this all did not come together, the map in 2010 shows Democratic pickup possibilities in Arizona (where popular Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano could beat John McCain, assuming she isn't tapped by a Democratic President to serve in the cabinet), Kansas (where Sam Brownback is retiring and popular Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius would be difficult to beat), Oklahoma (where popular Democratic Governor Brad Henry could give Tom Coburn a run for his money), Kentucky (where Jim Bunning nearly lost to an unknown state senator in 2004 and would be in for a whole heap of trouble against Democratic Congressman Ben Chandler), Florida (where Mel Martinez is not popular), New Hampshire (which is trending blue), Ohio (which is also trending blue), Iowa (which is also trending blue), and Pennsylvania (which is blue), as well as elsewhere pending retirements.

And let me just say, before I wrap up this post, that I think that Mark Warner will make a fine Senator and that, in the case that he is elected this cycle, Virginia will have one of the best teams of representation in the Senate of any state, red or blue.

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VA-Sen: Mark Warner Announces

Former Gov. Mark Warner sent an e-mail this morning announcing his candidacy for the U.S. Senate from Virginia (JeremiahTheMessiah has the text.)

Warner is up on the web HERE and view his announcement video below.

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Warner Announced... Where were you guys?

So this morning, at 9 AM (8 AM for me and anyone in the central timezone) an e-mail went out to supporters of Mark Warner's (I'm still trying to find a copy of it somewhere).  

Here is the new website: http://www.markwarner2008.com/

It's already added onto my favorites.  The quote he has on the front page is:

Our challenges are great, but the potential of Americans to step up and meet those challenges is more than equal to the task. Six years ago, we brought a bipartisan agenda of change to Virginia. It's time to bring that same approach to Washington and our nation.
Gov. Mark Warner

He notes that he's going to wait till after the 2007 legislature elections before he REALLY starts campaigning, and will make a more formal announcement again, after the 2007 leglislative elections.  

Something I noticed while surfing here, is that very few blogs are picking up on Warner announcing.  So hopefully you guys got the memo :-P

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VA-Sen: Warner's Running

The Washington Post is reporting that, as expected, former Gov. Mark Warner is indeed going to announce tomorrow that he'll run for John Warner's seat in the senate next year (h/t PeterR in the diaries.) His announcement will come in the form of an e-mail to supporters.

The e-mail, which is scheduled to be released about 9 a.m., will be Warner's only public comment Thursday on his future plans, said Monica Dixon, a Warner spokeswoman.

Warner (D) has decided to reveal his decision electronically because he doesn't want his announcement to upstage the fall campaign for control of the Virginia General Assembly. He plans to campaign Thursday afternoon for a state delegate seeking reelection in Hampton Roads.

Rasmussen polled the race assuming either Congressman Tom Davis or former Gov. Jim Gilmore would be Warner's opponent. In each instance Warner wins by at least 20%. The Post article says neither of these two Republicans is likely to announce his entrance into the race before the Nov. 6 state legislative elections.

Chalk up another recruitment success for Chuck Schumer. Warner's entrance brings us one step closer to what Bob Novak now predicts will be between 5-8 senate pickups for the Democrats next year.

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VA-Sen: Rasmussen Poll Shows Warner Way Ahead

The good folks at Raising Kaine reported on an unannounced visit by former Gov. Mark Warner, on bike no less, to the The Mount Vernon Democratic Committee ice cream social this past Sunday. At the event, Warner reportedly confided that he'd be announcing his candidacy this week...but for what office, whether a run for senate in 2008 or for the governorship in 2009, was still unclear.

Many in Virginia would prefer that he hold out for another run for governor so that they'd have a Democrat to oversee redistricting in 2010, which could be contentious if Democrats don't take over majorities in the General Assembly next year. Another benefit to Warner's waiting to run for governor: he leaves himself open to potentially fill a VP slot on the Democratic ticket in 2008. One man who is no doubt rooting for a Warner senate bid is DSCC head Chuck Schumer, and the new Rasmussen poll out today will certainly do nothing to tamp down that desire.

Rasmussen polled favorability ratings for Warner and his two most likely Republican senate opponents, former governor (and erstwhile presidential candidate) Jim Gilmore and Congressman Tom Davis. These numbers (favorable/unfavorable) confirm Mark Warner's popularity in Virginia.

Mark Warner 68/28
Jim Gilmore 49/42
Tom Davis 43/35

As you'd expect with numbers like those, the head to head match-ups are just as uneven:

Warner 54%
Gilmore 34%

Warner 57%
Davis 30%

It should be noted that Davis's weakness here is in part a function of his not being as well known statewide. If Davis were the nominee, he would presumbaly close the gap considerably. Gilmore, on the other hand, would be toast.

Charlie Cook's take on the race expands on this (via RK):

Mark Warner would be considered an almost prohibitive favorite over another former governor, Republican James Gilmore, who left the job somewhat inauspiciously, while a much more competitive race could be waged by GOP Rep. Tom Davis, who could cut into growing Democratic margins in Northern Virginia and the Tidewater region.

A possible GOP fight over whether to have a convention or a primary, a decision the state party makes, then another between Davis and Gilmore would waste time and resources in a state that has become more mid-Atlantic than Southern.

Between these numbers for Warner and another Rasmussen poll of Virginia voters out today that shows Bush at 38% job approval and Hillary Clinton beating the top Republican contenders by anywhere from 2 to 4%, it's hard to take Mary Matalin's insistence on Meet The Press last weekend that Virginia is "trending purple, but only purple...it's still a red state" as anything more than GOP wishful thinking.

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