Despite MSM gushing, just about everyone that knows anything about the judicial filibuster compromise knows that conservatives took it in the shorts. Angry conservatives say that they intend to make the compromisers pay a political price. What are their prospects? Where do these senators hail from and when are they up for election?
· Lincoln Chafee (RI): 2006
· Susan Collins (ME): 2008
· Mike DeWine (OH): 2006
· Lindsey Graham (SC): 2008
· John McCain (AZ): 2010
· Olympia Snowe (ME): 2006
· John Warner (VA): 2008
Conservatives consider most of these senators RINOs (Republicans in name only). So do a lot of their constituents. The fact that many of these people aren’t real conservatives is one of the things that got them elected in the first place.
Of the three that are up for election in 2006, Chafee and Snowe are quite safe in the Northeast where social conservatives are something of an anomaly. Conservatives could cause DeWine some problems in Ohio, but they have a huge incumbency advantage to overcome.
McCain clearly wants to run for president again. Social conservatives have the power to pretty much derail his chances for getting the Republican nomination. He will definitely pay a price in that respect.
Of the 2008 crowd, Collins and Warner are like Chafee and Snowe. If conservatives succeed in toppling any of them they are likely to be replaced by people (Democrat or Republican) that are at least as liberal as the ones ousted. Only Graham could end up being game, but like DeWine, his incumbency advantage will weigh heavily in his favor.
What about the seven Democrats? Could conservatives whack them?
· Robert Byrd (WV): 2006
· Daniel Inouye (HI): 2010
· Mary Landrieu (LA): 2008
· Joe Lieberman (CT): 2006
· Ben Nelson (NE): 2006
· Mark Pryor (AR): 2008
· Ken Salazar (CO): 2010
For 2006 conservatives could hurt Nelson in Nebraska, but Robert Byrd is probably the safest senator in the nation. Joe Lieberman is arguably more conservative than his Republican colleague Christopher Dodd, and social conservatives need not apply in Connecticut anyway. Landrieu and Pryor both live in states with a strong social conservative base, so they might see some trouble in 08 – especially Landrieu who barely won her seat in a special election. Inouye and Salazar just won elections last year and Inouye is totally safe in Hawaii anyway.
Come on. These people aren’t stupid. They each calculated the political cost of their action before taking it. Some of them may have miscalculated, and that is where conservatives may find opportunities. But some conservatives will not be content merely to punish these 14. There is a current running out there that feels that the Republican leadership sold out and allowed this to happen. They aim to spread the pain throughout those they deem RINOs.
The question is what course conservatives will take to administer punishment. They could take the long view and work extra hard to groom conservative candidates to replace targeted senators as they retire while simultaneously making retirement seem an increasingly good option. I’m afraid that their patience has grown too thin for that. They could just mess things up and cause rancor among Republicans, thereby giving their opponents an even greater edge.
My personal observation is that the majority of current voters are not right-side conservatives. Most hang around the middle of the spectrum. Social conservatives make up an even smaller base than conservatives in general. However, they have enough numbers and clout to provide a swing vote where races are relatively close. I hope they use that power judiciously. Let’s not cut off our noses to spite our faces.