While fighting day and night against the policies of President Bush, it is almost easy to overlook the upcoming battle for the United States Senate. The Democrats control the Senate by just one vote, including independent Senator Joe Lieberman. It is horribly unproductive for our party and for the nation that the vehemently pro-war Senator Joe Lieberman holds so much power over the Congressional agenda.
It is no wonder that we have seen the Senate majority lag behind the more aggressive House leadership under Speaker Pelosi in their opposition to the war. Even with old Senate war horses like Senator Byrd and Majority Leader Reid strongly opposing the war in Iraq, the chamber can't seem to agree on tough binding resolutions. We need more fresh blood and we need to take Joe Lieberman's power away.
In 2008, it is crucial that we increase our margin by electing emerging Democratic leaders. We have an unbelievable opportunity to do just that this election. With a coordinated and carefully executed campaign, Democrats could possibly win four to five seats in the 2008 election. Needless to say, such a win would dramatically increase the power of progressives.
Republican Senator Wayne Allard has announced his retirement and progressive Democratic Congressman Mark Udall has a good shot at taking this seat.
I predict that several Republican Senators may be vulnerable, including Gordon Smith (Oregon), Susan Collins (Maine), John Sununu (New Hampshire) and Norm Coleman (Minnesota). This last race illustrates the difference we can see in the Senate. Just imagine progressive Al Franken sitting in the seat of conservative Senator Coleman!
Senator Ted Stevens, who is under federal investigation, may also be highly vulnerable to a Democratic challenger. In addition, a few Republicans are seriously considering retirement, including Senator John Warner of Virginia.
It is important to note that we will need to protect vulnerable Democrats in order to make gains. Senator Mary Landrieu (Louisiana) and Senator Tim Johnson (South Dakota) both face potentially difficult reelection campaigns.
However, as you can see, the math is in our favor.
At least once a week, I read that Senator Lieberman is threatening to switch parties because Democrats are supposedly “soft” on the war in Iraq and the war against terror. Those threats must drive the Majority Leader nuts.
So, amidst all the craziness surrounding the 2008 presidential election, let’s not forget that we have a perfect opportunity to dramatically increase our margin in the Senate. As individual races develop, I’ll keep you updated on my favorite candidates and where I think we have the greatest opportunity to make gains. Stay tuned.