November 03, 2004
The big loser

The biggest loser of this election might well be Lincoln Chaffee.

Chaffee has faniced himself a Jeffords-style kingmaker in the senate, declaring that he was not voting for George W. Bush, and intimating that he might switch parties if Dubya won the election. However, the surprising success of the GOP in the Senate (a gain of four seats, to make it 55-44-1) means that he has no leverage now,as he'd go from being as obscure member of the majority party to an obscure member of the minority party. Additionally, it would not be unreasonable for the GOP leadership to pull his committee assignments (he is the chair of two subcommittees, Superfund/Waste Management and Near Eastern/South Asian Affairs) for his outspoken criticisms. Further, he won't have the influence Jeffords had when it comes to his pet projects (although Chaffee's projects are somewhat less parochial than those of Jeffords, focusing primarily on health research), and he is bound to find it harder to garner support from the Republican committee heads.

As a side thought, what has Jeffords done since bolting the party? I took a quick look, and he has sponsored 68 pieces of legislation in the most recent congress. However, 8 of them were amendments to this omnibus spending bill and an astonishing 24 were amendments to S14, which is the Energy Bill of 2003. He has only sponsored 16 actual pieces of legislation, none particularly noteworthy. He had his 15 minutes of fame, and he has settled into his footnote status as the only current independent in the Senate.

posted on November 03, 2004 07:33 PM


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