Ben Nelson’s Retirement Hurts Senate Democrats’ 2012 Chances
by James Rowley, Dec. 28 (Bloomberg—Excerpts)
The uphill climb for Democrats to defend their 53-47 Senate majority next year just got steeper with the decision by Nebraska’s Ben Nelson not to seek re- election.
Nelson, 70, became the seventh member of the Senate Democratic caucus to announce his retirement, saying in a videotaped statement yesterday that “it’s time to move on.”
Democrats are defending 23 seats in 2012, compared with 10 for the Republicans. Nelson’s retirement gives Republicans an edge in Nebraska, where he is the only Democrat currently elected to statewide office, and in their campaign to take over the Senate, political analysts say.
“It qualitatively changes things for Democrats” because ‘I don’t see a path to victory for Democrats in Nebraska,” said Jennifer Duffy, a Senate analyst for the non-partisan Cook Political Report. Nelson’s retirement next year “puts Republicans one seat closer to a majority.”….
A maverick in his caucus, Nelson voted against legislation in August to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, saying it “sets up a maze of convoluted procedures that will only continue the chaos and political games Nebraskans are tired of seeing.”
In 2005, when Republicans ran the Senate, Nelson was part of the bipartisan “Gang of 14” senators who agreed not to block judicial nominations except under “extraordinary circumstances.” The agreement averted a threat of legislative gridlock in the Senate over confirmation of President George W. Bush’s appointments to the federal bench.
In a statement yesterday, Obama called Nelson’s bipartisanship “a trait far too often overlooked in today’s politics.”….
The other retiring Democratic senators are Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin and Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico. Connecticut independent Joseph Lieberman, who caucuses with the Democrats, also isn’t seeking re-election.
In Hawaii, “Republicans found and got the one candidate to make it a race” -- former governor Linda Lingle, Duffy said.
Lingle’s successor as governor, Democrat Neil Abercrombie, “has an approval rating of 30, so she’s looking pretty good,” Duffy said.
(Question: Does Hawaii want to be saddled with a partisan hack like Hirono when Democrats are in the minority? How could somebody like Lazy Mazie possibly deliver any pork while in the minority?)
read … Ben Nelson’s Retirement Hurts Senate Democrats’ 2012 Chances
Sample: Ideology Yes, Hawaii No: Hirono Votes Against S. Korea Free Trade
Another Example: Military Spending: In pursuit of Ideology, Hirono Votes Against 18% of Hawaii Economy