Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Hagel, Chafee, Voinovich: What's at Stake on Thursday

The LA Times's Mary Curtius analyzes the potential fallout for GOP senators Hagel, Chafee and Voinovich should they opt to support or oppose John Bolton's nomination on Thursday.

Hagel has the most to lose, Curtius concludes. She quotes Tony Fabrizio, a Republican pollster, as saying "If you're going to run for president, how you vote [on Bolton] says something about your take on foreign policy." David Keene, head of the American Conservative Union, said that for Hagel to gain the support of conservatives in a 2008 presidential bid, "it would not be particularly beneficial to be seen as having knifed Bolton in the back." No mention of moderates, of course, or of a general election bid, but for a primary fight, Keene and Fabrizio are probably right.

Curtius says "Chafee, who represents an overwhelmingly Democratic state and is up for reelection next year, would risk more by supporting his president's nominee than he would by opposing him, political analysts say." That's an excellent point, and accurate in true-blue Rhode Island - while there is a chance that conservative Cranston RI mayor Steve Laffey could challenge Chafee in next year's primary, a vote against Bolton would not be likely to spur the White House into active support of another candidate, particularly with Chafee looking likely to keep his seat safe from Democratic challenges. Especially since Laffey would stand little chance of winning the general election (will conservatives be willing to lose a Republican in the Senate in exchange for John Bolton?). Chafee could get away with a no vote pretty easily, I suspect - and Rhode Islanders would support him for it.

As for George Voinovich, I agree with Curtius that he can be "considered the Republican with the least to lose if he were to defy his party and president and vote against Bolton's nomination." Just last year he was reelected, and won every county in Ohio on his way to victory. "If there ever was such a thing as political capital, George Voinovich certainly has it to spend right now," said Jason Mauk, political director for the Ohio Republican party. He does not face another reelection campaign for five years, and he could easily weather the storm.

Thursday's going to be interesting!


At 12:53 PM, Blogger The Cynical Liberal said...

Laffey would have little chance, I think, even with full White House backing... Chaffee is very popular, despite being a Republican, cuz he comes from an old, very popular political family here in RI. Sheldon Whitehouse as a Democratic challenger is an interesting choice, tho... I'm not entirely sure he'd win, but I think he'd definately pose a good threat, and it would stir up a heated campaign.

At 2:23 PM, Blogger Heiuan said...

I like Lincoln Chaffee. As a moderate, he really tapdances very well in the GOP Halls of Power, IMO.

CL, I read somewhere that one of the interesting things about a Chaffee/Whitehouse campaign is that the two families are friends.

If that's true, my...what interesting card parties they must hold, lol.

At 8:42 PM, Blogger The Cynical Liberal said...

Heiuan -

I've never heard or read anything about it... But it wouldn't surprise me... Remember Rhode Island is a tiny state, it wouldn't shock me if the politicians in power were one big old-boys club... It certainly would make sense in a tight-knit state like this.


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