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  Comments (7) Total Thursday Apr. 24, 2014
In With the Old
Like I was Sayin....
Last week, during the kickoff to his campaign for his old U.S. Senate seat in South Dakota, Republican-turned-independent Larry Pressler said, “I think there’s an increased level of people wanting an alternative to the Republican-Democrat thing.”

People have been saying this for a long time. And those people are right, but rarely does anything change.

Pressler served as a Republican for 18 years before being defeated by Democrat Tim Johnson in 1996. He’s a self-described moderate and supported Barack Obama for president in both 2008 and 2012. If defending those positions in conservative South Dakota wasn’t already an uphill climb, his campaign is made even harder by his third-party candidacy.

“I intend to win,” Pressler said, according to the Argus Leader newspaper.

“I want to ... end the poisonous bipartisan deadlock in Washington.”

Glancing at Congress’ approval rating – an all-time low of 14 percent in 2013, according to Gallup – it would appear that’s what we all want. Right? We’re going to clean house in the next election and take a longer look at alternatives to the two major parties.

Nothing can be so unpopular and survive intact.

Except Congress.

The problem with drawing conclusions about these poll numbers is that we assume those surveyed view members of their own party with the same disdain as those in the opposing party. They don’t. And with Congress essentially split, the prevailing view is that any changes in the makeup inside the chambers will be relatively modest.

“Selective outrage works against the sort of throw-the-bums-out election that would produce wholesale, across-the-board upheaval in the House,” Mark Z. Barabak wrote in the Los Angeles Times.

That’s to say nothing of the race for Senate majority, in which the GOP has multiple paths to flipping control in its favor, with Democrats defending 21 of the 35 seats up for grabs in November and several of them considered competitive. Republicans need just six seats to gain control.

Along with “selective outrage,” the House has demographics working in its favor. Montana is unique in that we have only one representative, while elsewhere many district lines have been gerrymandered to a degree that incumbents are almost unbeatable. The Cook Political Report, which tracks elections, found that “93 percent of Republican House members represent districts carried by Republican Mitt Romney in 2012 and 96 percent of Democrats represent districts won by Democrat Obama,” according to Barabak’s story. Meanwhile, the number of crossover seats, in which voters support one party for Congress and another for president, has dropped from 99 to 26 over the last two decades.

This makes it more difficult to clean house. Pressler, at least, is running for the Senate in a rural state where advertising is inexpensive, although he said that he may raise as little as 3 percent of the funds of his challengers. But people are already familiar with him.

In Montana, we may also have a well-known politician running for his old office. Former Congressman Denny Rehberg said he hasn’t ruled out competing for the House seat he gave up in order to challenge incumbent Sen. Jon Tester, in which he narrowly lost.
“People just started contacting me and asked, ‘Will you consider it?’” he told Lee Newspapers. “I like what I’m doing, expanding a small business, but I haven’t ruled it out.”

Despite almost universal loathing of Congress, former members of it like Pressler and Rehberg see this year as an opportunity for a political comeback. And why not? Voters are just as likely to replace the old with old than the old with anything new.
On 01-16-14, mooseberryinn commented....
Most likely, given the “Clown-in-Chiefs” total failure to lead, all we can hope for is that the Iranians might accidentally blow-up their ‘research” facilities.
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