The Balance of Power Starts to Tip

The decision by Sen. Christopher Dodd not to run for a sixth term gives the Democrats a break. Had he gone on with his campaign -- one he was unlikely to win -- odds are the seat would have been won by the GOP. If the Republicans want the seat now, they're going to have to fight for it, and the realpolitik of Connecticut is such that Richard Blumenthal, the Nutmeg State's longtime attorney general, has not only announced that he's running for the seat, but most pollsters suspect he may win it handily.

This dynamic effectively neutralizes the decision by Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota not to seek another term. His seat will likely be captured by the GOP, especially if the sitting governor, John Hoeven, decides to run. Curiously, though, no announcement has been made. Indeed, prior to Dorgan's announcement, Hoeven hadn't even decided whether to run for the Senate at all. Precisely what is he waiting for? Are there skeletons in that closet?

Even as the Republicans strut and crow over the fact that two longtime Democratic senators are stepping down, the fact remains that three of the open seats they want to win -- in Ohio, Florida and Missouri -- are in expensive media markets, and the GOP's fundraising, though vigorous, is not yet advancing at the speed of light. Could the grumpy electorate, however intent they may be to punish incumbents for starting the painful process of atoning for the fiscal holocaust of the Bush years, also fundamentally understand that the GOP is not ready to lead? A political party with a large faction that aligns itself with hate speech is not ideally suited to fully dominate the great American middle. However, what such a party can do -- and Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter's decision not to seek a second term is more evidence of it -- is redress the balance of power so as to force the Democrats and Republicans to work together constructively.

And if I'm wrong about that, just remember this: Democrats can be as obstructionist, as obstreperous, as the Republicans. So be careful what it is you wish for.

Leonard Jacobs is a writer and editor of The Clyde Fitch Report and a frequent contributor to the Fox Forum.