An interesting analysis from Peter Robinson, who notes that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid needs 60 votes to pass the health care bill but may have a difficult time finding them from among his Senate colleagues.
How many senators now caucus with the Democrats? Sixty–the very number Reid needs. Yet one of the 60, Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, has already indicated that he intends to support the Republican filibuster. This reduces Reid’s count to 59.
Will all the remaining Democrats embrace the Reid bill? Hardly. …
Take a look at any list of, say, the 10 most conservative Democrats in the Senate. On that list, you’ll find four senators who face re-election in 2010. Set aside Evan Bayh of Indiana and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin; both have such high approval ratings that they’re likely to win in a walk. That leaves Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota. These two are in trouble. …
Sen. Dorgan faces a different sort of problem. Whereas his own approval ratings remain high–well over 60% of North Dakotans like the job Dorgan is doing–even more North Dakotans approve of their Republican governor, John Hoeven. Hoeven has so far declined to challenge Dorgan. However, if Hoeven changed his mind, polls indicate, he would defeat Dorgan by double digits. Dorgan thus finds himself in the position of the cartoon mouse that must tiptoe past the sleeping cat. Voting for the Reid bill would be like banging a gong.
Indeed. And, frankly, from someone who is certainly no fan of Governor Hoeven it almost makes me want the Governor to run for Senate. If for nothing else than to force Dorgan to stay away from the health care bill in advance of the 2010 election season.
And, of course, to tie up Dorgan’s river of out-of-state money so that it has to be spent on his campaign rather than be funneled down to other statewide and legislative races in North Dakota.
Nothing’s a certainty, but I’d put my money on Hoeven announcing his candidacy some time after the 1st of next year.