In a recent post about a potential Republican majority House of Representatives, I’d written:
“Before I delve into the potential horror that may await us, I’m going out on a twig-thin limb with a prediction: the Democrats will retain their majorities and possibly pick up a Senate seat or two.”
It’s getting a bit challenging to hang on to the House portion of my prediction.
At this point, I’m focused on the Senate. Although it’s a huge relief to know that the Democrats have the majority, I was a bit too glib in suggesting that the Republicans might lose interest as a result. They’re fully engaged and sparing no expense to make Herschel Walker into a United States Senator.
So here’s my shorthand for all that I’ve learned about the importance of ensuring Senator Raphael Warnock’s reelection:
Fifty-one Senators is much more than one more than fifty.
Of course in any reality removed from today’s Republican party and its base, the contest between Senator Warnock and Herschel Walker would be ridiculous. I’m assuming you know the mammoth disparity in qualifications, intellect, experience, and temperament between these two men.
Unfortunately, although Warnock was leading, he didn’t receive fifty percent of the vote; the result is the runoff election on December 6th.
In addition to his merits as a Senator, Warnock’s status as the fifty-first Democrat would mean the following:
—In contrast to the present 50-50 Senate, the Democrats won’t have to share committee assignments equally with the Republicans: they can have a majority of members on the various committees. They’ll be able to move bills out of committee and issue subpoenas without Republican approval. The result will be greater control over both legislation and confirmation of the President’s nominees, as well as fewer delays.
—The power of Senators Manchin and Sinema, who stymied the President’s plans on a number of occasions, will be diluted. (In truth, I think that Sinema is a wild card anyway. I heard Arizona Representative Ruben Gallego express dismay that she’s been nowhere in evidence during this very difficult period for the Arizona Democrats running for office. Her interests appear entirely Sinema-centric to me.)
—The 2024 election will be very challenging for Democrats: of the thirty-three Senatorial positions up in two years, twenty-three are held by Democrats. A Warnock win in December will mean one less seat to worry about.
—“The Senate is a gerontocracy,” tweeted Dante Atkins, who describes himself as a “progressive communicator and strategist.” “…We could have a death in a state with a Republican governor. a lot of things could happen. 51-49 versus 50-50 means you can have up to 2 absences/noes” [and still be able to conduct the Senate’s business].
—Atkins also pointed out that Vice President Harris would no longer have to be moored to Washington as backup to break a legislative tie. She can be “deployed for both policy and campaigning”—more productive use of her time.
—Of great importance, Democrats would be able to confirm judicial nominations with a simple majority vote. We all have heightened awareness of the urgent need for qualified judges throughout the country. McConnell and the former guy did their best Johnny Appleseed efforts to get young, ultra-conservative, and not always stellar individuals sprinkled throughout the land.
Robert Hubbell points out that there are presently 89 vacant federal judgeships—ten percent of the total positions. President Biden has been moving rapidly to fill judgeships with admirable and diverse individuals. The simple majority vote will expedite this effort.
—If the Republicans gain a majority in the House of Representatives, the Democratic Senators can reject bills that the House passes. As Hubbell puts it, “One additional vote substantially lessens the ability of Republicans to act as legislative terrorists.”
As you can see, there’s much at stake in this runoff election. I wasn’t surprised to learn that the highly touted Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, though he gained respect for standing up to Trump’s entreaties that he “find 11,780 votes” in 2020, has demonstrated his willingness to put his thumb on the election scale.
He didn’t protest the comprehensive overhaul of Georgia’s election law passed in 2021, which has been called the state’s “Anti-Voter Law.” That’s the law that criminalized bringing a glass of water to a voter on a long line, among other voter suppression tactics. It also has a strongly suppressive impact on runoff elections–shortening all the periods for voters to get and return mail-in ballots and to vote early in person.
When the runoff became clear, Raffensperger ruled that Georgia law prohibits early in-person voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. According to Marc Elias’s Democracy Docket, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) is publicly disagreeing with Raffensperger’s interpretation of a 2016 law, which it calls “a plain misreading…”
The DSCC’s lawyers—that would be the Elias Law Group—sent a letter to various Georgia county election boards encouraging them to begin early in-person voting as soon as possible; the letter provided a sample schedule to help the county boards satisfy all their required notices and testing.
Kudos to the indefatigable Marc Elias and his colleagues!
If you’d like to help and you’re thinking of sending a donation, no matter how small, please don’t hesitate. You can use this link. The Republicans are pouring money into Walker’s campaign. (At some point, we have to get all this money out of politics, but we can’t now.)
My husband and I had written postcards to voters in behalf of Warnock and Stacey Abrams in October, and we’ve now resumed this effort for Warnock. The organization is Postcards to Voters. Other options and organizations are listed in this publication.
Everyone’s tired. We all need a rest. But I think the November 8th election has shown us that democracy is worth fighting for—and we need to keep at it.