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The headlines have been filled with the news that three prominent Democratic politicians--two of them senators--won't be seeking reelection in the midterm elections this year. So how might the decisions of Chris Dodd, the well-known senator from Connecticut, and Byron Dorgan, of North Dakota, affect the still-uncertain future of the climate bill? Actually, what's being touted as bad news for Democrats in papers across the country--the New York Times headline reads Democrats Face Shifting and Perilous Political Environment--may actually be good news for a climate bill in the Senate. Here's why, according to Joe Romm:
What's bad news for the Dems in the longer term could be good news for the climate bill in the short term. Nate Silver had given Dorgan a "Probability of Yes" vote of 22%. He was certainly going to be among the 5 toughest Dem votes to get.Chris Dodd, on the other hand, will certainly vote for the clean energy reform bill--the fact that he's giving up his seat makes no difference one way or the other.
But now he doesn't face a tough reelection, and the Senator from the state he himself calls "the Saudi Arabia of wind" is free to vote his conscience. Indeed, all things being equal, I think he'd like to vote 'yes'
As far as long-term ramifications, these announcements will have a mixed impact on Democrats. Losing Dorgan's incumbency is certainly bad news--he was popular enough to hold his seat in a majority Republican state--and now, a GOP candidate will be far more likely to take it. But in Dodd's case, his stepping down is positive news for Democrats--he was resoundingly unpopular in his own state, despite Connecticut being dark blue, and the Democrat announcing his candidacy to fill the seat is Richard Blumenthal, the most popular politician in the state. So by vacating his seat, Dodd is all but ensuring that it remains in Democrat hands--whereas he could have easily lost a reelection fight to a GOP challenger.
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