Democrats have their top recruit running to succeed Sestak in Bryan Lentz. Lentz can beat Meehan and hold the seat. I don't know where Meehan picked up this air of invincibility that you seem to think he has, Kent.
I believe that Democrats should try to run competitively everywhere. I'm a proponent of a 50-state strategy when it's tenable.
I'm curious if the Republican Party nationally holds a similar philosophy, or, at the very least, if they're willing to put their money where their mouth is in terms of running at least a credible, competitive campaign.
It would make a statement for the NRSC to not write off Massachusetts. I'm curious in which direction they'll go.
But progressives should still cheer his candidacy, and here's why -- the National Republican Senatorial Committee will be forced to spend millions defending this seat, depriving them of funds to target our vulnerable incumbents and aggressively defend their open seats. Millions shipped to Louisiana mean millions less to hit our vulnerable incumbents like Chris Dodd, millions less to defend open seats such as New Hampshire, Kentucky, Ohio, and Missouri, and millions less to defend their vulnerable incumbents like Richard Burr.
Ultimately, kos leans against vocal support for Melancon because he's not a "better Democrat." I don't think that takes enough of a long view.
kos accurately points out that Melancon's candidacy helps progressives by forcing the NRSC and national GOP donors to focus money on Vitter that they'd rather spend on Ohio, Connecticut, or elsewhere. (It also forces the GOP to defend Vitter's personal flaws in light of their sanctimony.)
But Melancon will be a frustrating Democrat in the Senate. I don't think he'd be Ben Nelson flat-out bad. I think he'd just be John Breaux frustrating.
It might be hard to get fired up about a Melancon candidacy when there are better Dems running in other competitive races, like Joe Sestak and others.
But Vitter is as close to a 100% pro-wingnut, anti-Obama vote as there will be this cycle. Replacing him with a blue dog Dem is a worthwhile upgrade if a more progressive option is simply untenable.
The key question to ask is which will be harder in the coming years: replacing Vitter with a real progressive in 2016 or convincing a Senator Melancon to come to the left on enough key votes to make it worthwhile. I think the latter, and not by a small margin.
Beyond that, I see broader value in further demoralizing the GOP by reducing their Senate caucus to the mid-30s. Assuming that some real health care reform gets passed and unemployment shrinks (as it should in the months ahead as the lagging indicator to the stock market), Dem poll numbers should increase, and Dodd-Reid-Lincoln-Illinois will be increasingly safe. And pick-up possibilities in New Hampshire, Ohio, Missouri, etc. will look even more favorable.
(On top of which, Dems won't hold the majority forever. Whoever wins a Melancon-Vitter battle could hold the seat for the next 12 or 18 years or more - I'd hate to give the GOP a Senate majority in the decade by one seat... you get the picture.)
With the Democratic caucus at 60 seats, the Liebermans and Bayhs and Ben Nelsons feel empowered to jerk around. With 64-65 seats, we reduce their influence - and even increase the weight of primary threats.
And, hey, giving Vitter the boot (and using it as a prelude to give John Ensign the boot in 2012) would be so enjoyable.
It's less exciting to root for someone who's not a progressive champion - but that doesn't mean that Melancon's candidacy and election won't help progressive ends.
Senator Kennedy's request is the best way to go about filling a Senate vacancy. A gubernatorial appointment by itself removes direct election by the people, but a special election months after a vacancy occurs leaves a gap in full representation.
Having a temporary gubernatorial appointment after a vacancy occurs, alongside of a special election a few months down the line both allows for uninterrupted full representation without sacrificing direct election by the people.
Not surprisingly, Senator Kennedy's request makes the most sense when it comes to ensuring that the people are best represented.
Congressman Sestak supports a public option to compete with private insurers, which is why the Ras breakdown is so quirky. Congressman Sestak is definitely not running to Specter's right. One would think Congressman Sestak would have an easier time winning the support of more liberal Dems. Future polls will be very enlightening in this area.
My impression is that the mid-50s will prove to be Specter's high point in the primary. He has the name ID and Dems have been generally content with him. When Sestak introduces himself, outlines where he will be (and has been) a much better Democrat on the issues than Specter, labor likely comes out for him, and people absorb the notion that Arlen is only in it for Arlen, Dem votes will leave the fake Democrat for the real Democrat.
I see her following comments as a jab at the very conservatives who don't understand the difference between "law" and "policy." It's as if she's saying, "This is on tape so, of course, some conservative will accuse us of trying to make law from the bench..."
She's taking conservatives' willful ignorance head on.
In the several months since he's entered the race, I haven't seen Torsella (on his website or in the media) talk about positions on any issues at all. At all. He has a terrific civic resume, to be sure, but that doesn't make him progressive. I'm not saying he's not progressive - I'm saying that we have no way to know since Torsella hasn't said boo about any issues yet.
Specter is legally allowed to run as an independent - but he has to decide that before the Party primaries. In other words, he can't lose the Dem or GOP primary and THEN decide to run as an independent (as Lieberman did in Connecticut).
So why go to the Dems instead of run as an independent? The reason is probably demographics. In a lot of states, independent voters are one-third or more of the electorate. But, in Pennsylvania, independent voters are only about one-eighth of the electorate - not a big enough pool of voters for Snarlin' Arlen. (The PA electorate roughly breaks down 1/8 independent, 3/8 GOP, 4/8 Dem.)