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Everybody practically is saying the GOP needs 51 votes to control the Senate with former Delaware Senator Joe Biden as VP. Here’s Dick Morris and Elieen McGann for example:

Nationally, Republicans need 10 pickups to win the Senate.

But I have a different theory:  The GOP needs only 50 seats to win control and might even win control with 49.  How?

It’s as simple as another of my political heroes, Senator Joe Lieberman.  Lieberman has been the key vote before for the Dems to control the Senate.  He endorsed and spoke for Senator McCain at the ’08 GOP Convention.  (Lieberman was believed to be on the short list for McCain’s VP – I wonder what would have happened.  Would the conservatives have walked out or would McCain have won?  I never had a problem with Lieberman as VP even if he is a superhawk.)  Lieberman was reported by The Hill to be considering a GOP run for Senate in 2012.  The Republicans seem to be returning the favor. Liberals sought his ouster as Homeland Security Committee chair for helping McCain but the deal was made and Lieberman stayed in the chair.  Lieberman would be keen on keeping that spot.  So, he may very well caucus with the GOP this next election.  (I think that the Tea Party would be cool to Lieberman and he may be primaryied if he ran as a Republican.)

Suppose the GOP got 50 votes or even 49?  There is a potential new wrinkle:  Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska.  While he stated some time ago that he would not switch to GOP or even independent and that he was happy with the Democrats, Nelson’s polling numbers took a dive after the health-care bill.  A political makeover could revive his fortunes; Nelson is a chair of two subcommittees (Legislative Branch of Appropriations and Strategic Forces of Armed Services) and might want to protect that status.  Becoming an independent and caucusing with the GOP might also be the prescription Senator Nelson needs to get re-elected in 2012.  Nelson is reported to have opposed the EPA carbon regulations and also financial services legislation.

I would say, if we get 51 that’s great.  But if the Republicans get 50 or 49, control is still possible.  (Keep in mind that the Dems could and would filibuster important bills and measures.  But we would control the committees and the calendar of legislation.)

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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