There is really only one question that makes the November general election interesting at all to me: Will the Senate be run by a bi-partisan coalition again? Everything else fades — the individual races, the ballot questions, the egos.
Gov. Sean Parnell has made it his goal this year to remove the infidels from power in the Senate. Those infidels are the ten Democrats and six Republicans in the majority coalition who refused the governor’s calls for cutting taxes to oil companies. We have seen an example of how his presence can impact elections, and we don’t have any reason to be impressed. Tom Wagoner had renounced his membership in the bipartisan group before the Republican Primary in August, and the governor had endorsed his reelection. However, even with the governor’s help, Wagoner lost the race by some 1200 votes. Of course, the results might have been worse without the endorsement. But it doesn’t show off the governor’s attractiveness.
Two thoughts on this:
One, this is a test of the governor’s current influence – something living politicians don’t usually allow. Problem is, it’s a useless test. The governor’s approach was badly set up and has given no indication that it will be well-executed. He has avoided going directly before the public – limiting his appearances to stage-managed events in front of agreeable audiences. At the same time there has been little effort made to get the message to the voters. Advertising might be on the way, but it isn’t making an impact yet – and balloting begins Monday.
Second, count on serious attempts to form a bi-partisan group after the election whatever the outcome. It’s a comfortable conclusion that they will succeed. My conservative analysis of the Senate races so far shows the R’s will have twelve victories, the D’s will have eight. On the extreme, the D’s could get their own majority. It is better to avoid the party labels by classifying candidates by their bipartisan alignments. Looking at the voting list that way, there are fourteen likely winners who are – or have been – members of a bipartisan coalition. That’s quite a challenge for the governor.
The problem with the likelihood of a Republican-only majority is that those R’s know they cannot work together. It’s personal relationships over philosophy. There will be a split – my take right now is six of the twelve likely R’s are ready right now to align with the eight D’s. Some of them are already saying such things privately. Internal Republican friction and instability won’t get the basic work done.
The governor could change the election results with some creative campaigning and personal involvement. Don’t count on it, though.