February 17, 2005

PoliticsVT: Dean, Leahy and Douglas Endorse Jeffords

Looks like Jeffords, the Senator that infamously switched from R to I to hand the Senate over to the Democrats for a period, is in a great spot for reelection in 2006. Personally I find him to have some pretty strongly Democratic positions and a handful of moderate positions. I'm not especially thrilled with the result, but New England likes a) kooky, unpredictable politicians who will surprise both parties for the hell of it and b) common-sense, moderate politicians that cultivate reputations of working from the middle. It's all the better in New England if you can grab a reputation for a little of each.

Jeffords looks pretty safe. After all, he got a lot of juice among the left for switching away from Bush. The GOP in Vermont can't like him much, but they're not going to be a huge threat. With the support Dean (celebrity ex-Gov and DNC Chair), Leahy (Democrat and senior Senator) and Douglas (wildly popular Governor and Republican moderate), Jeffords is pretty secure. With Dean on board it's doubtful the Democrats will really even try to run against him. Likely the Vermont Progressive Party, which has several members in the VT House, will try to run a candidate against.

The GOP is going to run against Jeffords. With Governor Douglas going against them, I think the GOP in VT should spend its money down-ballot. Unless Jeffords betrays a few whiffs of weakness, I'd say it's a done deal and they should focus that money somewhere else.

Devil's Advocate: Jeffords is old. If he starts to waiver or give off a sense of senility then he'd be very susceptible. This could be like Bunning in KY 2004. With a few extra weeks or months, the Republicans could exploit the perceived weakness. Now, since nobody wants to see an old man with Alzheimer's beaten down, but they don't relish the idea of a Strom Thurmond-style puppet sitting in Washington, it would probably be best if Jeffords stepped out. If that's his course, he needs to do so sooner rather than later. Waiting on that issue hurts the Democrats, who might appear overly anxious to boot a weak old statesman from office.

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