Monday, November 13, 2006

The outlines are forming

We're starting to get a sense of where the much lauded new Democratic congress is headed. Here's what to watch:
  1. You'll know that the lefties are in charge if John Murtha overtakes Steny Hoyer for Majority Leader. Murtha has been front and center in the anti-war wing of the party and he has long coveted a leadership role. If Nancy Pelosi steers it that way, and her comments yesterday indicate that she's thinking that way, it will mean that the House will be pushing hard for a quick surrender. Sorry if you don't like that term, but that's what they want.
  2. The new Donkeys were elected ostensibly for their moderation. There are specific examples of this, including Tim Walz here in Minnesota and Heath Shuler in North Carolina. The districts they represent, while open to the Democratic message, still are generally conservative in outlook. A wise Democratic leadership would find ways to shield such members from having to take controversial stands, at least initially. But I doubt that's going to happen.
  3. Meanwhile, closer to home we can already conclude that the Democrats haven't learned much at the state level. By selecting the bombastic, nasty Larry Pogemiller as the next Senate majority leader, the D's are signaling that a full-scale conflict with Governor Pawlenty is imminent. Dean Johnson, although he was tough, was good at putting on a conciliatory face. Pogemiller doesn't really give a rat's behind what his opponents think. With another lefty, Margaret Anderson Kelliher, set to be the new House Speaker, the D's have announced their intentions to swing hard left. I'll be curious to see how that posture affects such newly minted members as Kate Knuth in 50B and Paul Gardner in 53A, who represent districts that have historically rejected strident leftism.
  4. Finally, the Star Tribune couldn't even wait and began profiling potential opponents for Sen. Norm Coleman, who will be running for re-election in 2008. The names floated in the article include Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak, Rep. Betty McCollum, trial lawyer extraordinaire Mike Ciresi, and reputed comedian Al Franken. If that's the best the DFL has, Norm should be pretty relaxed. My sincere wish would be for McCollum to emerge and for Norm to kick her butt. That way, I'd also get a less absurd representative in Congress.

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