From yesterday’s posts and comments I see that some of you aren’t happy that Bob Kerrey is going to run for the Nebraska Senate. My take is we’re lucky he’s running and we’ll be lucky if he wins, and I say that as someone who can’t stand the guy, personally.
If Democrats are going to control the Senate, we need Senators from marginal states, like the Plains states. A decade ago, the Dakotas and Nebraska had Conrad, Daschle, Dorgan, Johnson and Nelson. In the next session, we’ll have Johnson, Conrad’s replacement (probably a Republican) and Nelson’s replacement (Kerrey if we’re lucky). That’s a loss of up to 4 seats in a decade.
The theory that demographics will be the Democratic Party’s savior might pan out in the House, if we can get some decent redistricting, but the Senate math is brutal. We’re going to solidify most of the Northeast in the next few cycles, except perhaps for the Kentucky of New England, New Hampshire, but we should have those seats as a buffer against electoral mishap anyway. That leaves us with the purple fringe of the South, the Plains and the Rocky Mountain States. None of these states will elect a “real progressive”, and anyone who thinks they’ve found one in the wild (as Kos did with Tester) will soon be disappointed.
Finally, on the ground, it’s hard to overstate the importance of Democrat holding federal office in red or purple states. Without at least one Democrat driving media coverage, GOTV and party enthusiasm, it’s really hard for Democrats to win other offices or generate much party excitement. For example, take Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, the Blue Dog everyone here hated. My relatives in South Dakota thought she was great. She was a young, energetic and exciting presence on TV and in the newspaper, representing progressive ideals and demonstrating that Democrats can serve everyone in the state. Her loss to a Palin doppelganger was really disheartening for South Dakota Democrats, even if it was a meh event for the rest of us.
But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there’s a way to hold the Senate without the likes of Bob Kerrey. Here’s the map, you tell me how we get a decent Senate majority without guys like him.