JAMES WRIGHT WRITES

Dems set for more seats in Congress in 2010

Posted in Uncategorized by afronews on April 2, 2009

The Democrats are in full control of the U.S. House of Representatives and within a senator (can you say Al Franken) of functional control of the U.S. Senate. The American people flocked to the Democratic Party in 2008 with the election of Barack Obama, the election of seven senators and a two dozen members of the House.

I went to a briefing with Democratic Congressional Campaign Chairman Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) yesterday at the Democratic National Committee headquarters. Van Hollen talked about the New York congressional race that took place on March 31 in which Steve Murphy defeated a well-entrenched Republican leader in the General Assembly by a handful of votes. But he also hinted at possibly expanding their majority in the House.

“In 2006, we went into Republican terrority and took back the House,” he said. “In 2008, we went deeper and gained more members. In 2010, we want to get more members.”

There is a strong possibility that may happen. In 2008, Republican presidential candidate John McCain carried 49 districts that elected Democrats to Congress. However, Barack Obama carried 35 districts that elected Republicans as their representative in the House. There are 255 Democrats, and 178 Republicans with 2 vacancies. It appears that the Dems will pick up those two to increase their numbers to 257.

It takes 218 to control the chamber.

If the Democrats can hold the McCain 49 and pick up, let’s say, five of Obama’s 35, the Dems number will increase to 262 while the GOP will fall to a useless 173. The Dems will be close to a supermajority, which means that they can pass legislation without any type of procedural maneuvers by the Republican minority.

While I am impressed with the Dems who won their seats while McCain carried their districts, I am elated that  more pickups could come from the Obama 35. While some GOP legislators are safe as a Illena Ros-Lehten of Florida, some of the Califorians such as Dan Lungren could be in real trouble.

“We feel good about our chances in California in 2010,” Van Hollen said.

One member that will likely lose in 2010 is Joseph Chao of Louisiana, who represents predominantly Black New Orleans. The first Vietnamese American elected to Congress will probably be a one-termer as the Blacks in that city and district want it back.

The Dems gaining more seats will only help the Congressional Black Caucus. The CBC will have more clout with more Democratic members. Chairman Charles Rangel, John Conyers and Bennie Thompson will be able to move their own agenda with less Republican opposition and be able to offer carrots to conservative Dems in terms of choice subcommittee assignments and more money for their districts.

All of this is dependent on how popular President Obama is in 2010 and the state of the economy.

“It is way to early to predict how things are going to come out,” Van Hollen said. “But let me say that things look good for us.”

Indeed. While some fear that a near Democratic super majority in the House may not be good for democracy, I would argue otherwise. Until the Republican Party gets serious about reaching out to people other than wealthy Whites, super religious White Christians and White blue collar workers, it will remain the minority party in the House. With people of color becoming more numerous and politically active, the prospect of a GOP takeover is less and less likely unless the party is committed to change.

Van Hollen success in 2008 has already won him points in the House leadership. In addition to running the DCCC, he holds the title of Assistant to the Speaker of the House. If he does well in 2010 by gaining more seats, he can look to a Senate run in the near future or leapfrogging his way as House Majority Whip, as James Clyburn looks to wind down his political career.

If present trends hold, it looks like the Dems may be in control of the House for the next decade. How sweet it is.

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