Bridge to Nowhere Senator Gets the Boot

It looks like the Democrats have picked up one more Senate seat, ousting the corrupt and utterly useless Republican Senator Ted Stevens.  The new win puts them currently at 58 Senate seats.

Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich(D) defeated Sen. Ted Stevens, ending the tenure of the longest-serving Republican in Senate history, after the counting of more ballots yesterday gave him a larger lead than the number of votes still untallied, Alaska elections officials said.

Begich’s win gives Democrats control of 58 seats in the Senate, including two independents who caucus with them. That is two shy of the number needed to prevent Republicans from filibustering, with two races still undecided. Democrats have not controlled 60 seats since 1978.

Begich leads Stevens by more than 3,700 votes, according to the Alaska secretary of state. Gail Fenumiai, the head of the state’s election division, said about 2,500 absentee votes from overseas and Alaska’s most remote regions remain to be counted.
 
The Democrat’s lead thus far — 47.8 percent to 46.6 percent — puts him beyond the margin of victory that would allow Stevens to call for a state-funded recount of the ballots.

It’s possible that the final tally will result in a less than .5% lead, in which case Stevens will call for a recount.  But it’s looking increasingly unlikely and news sources seem to be confidently calling the result.

One of the two still undecided races is in Minnesota, where a recount has begun, and previous numbers showed incumbent Republican Norm Coleman with mere 206 vote lead on Democratic challenger Al Franken.  In Georgia, there will be a runoff election on December 2, where Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss will face off against Democrat Jim Martin.

In other words, 60 Senate votes is still entirely possible, if not hugely likely. Regardless of the overall outcome, 58 is still pretty damn good.

The real question, of course, is whether the Democratic Party is going to use its new-found power to push a truly progressive agenda, including vitally important items like national health care and an aggressive approach to global warming.  What do you think?  Are you optimistic or skeptical?

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5 Responses

  1. Holly
    Holly November 19, 2008 at 4:30 pm |

    The real question, of course, is whether the Democratic Party is going to use its new-found power to push a truly progressive agenda, including vitally important items like national health care and an aggressive approach to global warming. What do you think? Are you optimistic or skeptical?

    Everything I’ve seen so far makes me skeptical. For one thing, the splintering of the Republican party shows no sign of abating, and it looks to me like a lot of the fiscal conservatives who have been financing Republican think tanks are going to shift some of their giant piles of oligarchic money over to investing in influence over the Democratic Party. And that does NOT mean the progressive wing of the party, it means the extremely centrist DLC and NDC parts of the party, who tend to be more into compromise with Republicans on various kinds of issues. Obama may have described himself as “not a good candidate for the DLC” but the fact that the Democrats in general have gotten a huge boost in this election means that the stakes have changed.

    Meanwhile, the strategy stuff I hear on the grapevine from various kinds of large nonprofits all seems to suggest that every “single-issue” interest group will be clamoring to try and make some gains in their own area. This is nothing new for the disorganized left, but it’s certainly not going to help create major populist political momentum behind any particular area. Prop 8 was terrible, there’s no doubt about it, but part of the fallout is that most of the gay rights orgs are going into Gay Marriage overdrive and ignoring everything else that’s of concern to queer communities, including ignoring opportunities to do intersectional coalition work. People seem to be grabbing their eggs from the communal table and putting them all into one basket — their own baskets.

  2. Jill
    Jill November 19, 2008 at 5:26 pm | *

    Well, I’m always a skeptic. I’m skeptical in particular because Democrats have always played the game in a particular way — they’ve moved towards the middle, adopted right-wing talking points, and apologized for their views over and over. I was hoping that this election would be the beginning of that habit being broken, but I’m not sure it’s going to happen.

  3. Jim from Ohio
    Jim from Ohio November 19, 2008 at 7:25 pm |

    This conceded loss by the architect of the bridge to no where was not only a win for another Senate seat but it slam ducked the door on any desires of Ms. Sarah to some how take Uncle Ted’s seat when he was ousted from Senate due to his guilty status.

    Goodbye to Mr. Ted, the talking Moose..Goodbye to Ms. Sarah..the architect of the first presidential campaign featuring a shotgun wedding. Run Levi, Run.

  4. Amos
    Amos November 19, 2008 at 10:22 pm |

    This quest for 60 Democrats is completely bogus. Cloture votes are not straight party-line affairs. Of course, more Democrats is always better, but senators are pretty independent and vote how they want. The 51 vote threshhold is different because organization of the Senate (committees and officers) is a straight party vote.

  5. Peter
    Peter November 21, 2008 at 5:31 am |

    The real question, of course, is whether the Democratic Party is going to use its new-found power to push a truly progressive agenda, including vitally important items like national health care and an aggressive approach to global warming. What do you think? Are you optimistic or skeptical?

    You know what I think? I don’t think politicians do jack, unless their constituents demand it and pressure them.

    I don’t think the mere act of electing a Democratic majority ensures anything. What I’m saying is that I have no confidend the Democratic Party will do anything substantive unless their feet are held to the fire. Progressive change comes from the bottom up, not the top down. I really don’t think FDR would have done what he did simply out of the goodness of his heart. Substantial progressive change almost never comes from politicians or political Parties. They may be the ones that implment polcies and laws that ultimately result in change. But, history is pretty clear on this. The only reason the civil rights movement in the 60s, or the women’s sufferage movement made any headway at all is because of people working in the streets, in the communities, and people being proactively engaged in a sustained way. And they forced politicians to listen to them. That change didn’t come about in the halls of congress.

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