Monday, January 30, 2006

Republicans Against Alito

So far there's only one: Lincoln Chafee, of Rhode Island.

Chafee, by far the most liberal Republican in the Senate, was widely considered the most likely to vote against Alito, but was nonetheless considered an unlikely opponent, due to his record on presidential appointees.

This is a surprising move to say the least. Voting against Alito could potentially help Chafee in the general election, and he will gain the support of liberal interests such as labor and issue advocacy groups like NARAL. However, as Chafee's record becomes more liberal, the threat of a tough Republican primary intensifies. Bush's campaign friends have been lending the senator a helping hand but may defect if they decide that he's not much better than a Democrat.

Are the Democratic strategists rooting for a Chafee loss in the primaries to a right winger who will almost surely lose in the general election? Until the Democrats come within striking distance of the majority, having moderate and liberal Republican votes makes a big difference in pursuing a progressive agenda. However, if the Senate is split 50-50 next January, Chafee will be as annoying as any other Republican.

What is preventing Chafee from switching? He faced this decision a few years ago. Have things changed enough since then?


At 7:43 AM, Anonymous Steven Hart said...

So what if Lincoln Chafee voted against Alito? He voted "yes" on cloture, which ended the debate and put the appointment out for a full vote, where Alito's appointment is a foregone conclusion. The only meaningful gesture on Chafee's part would have been siding with the filibuster. Handled like a true "moderate Republican."


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