WeWantThePublicOption.com, an advocacy group for the public option in health care reform, are doing what such a group should be doing – targeting conservative/centrist Democrats who are getting in the way. They decided to submit the question of which three Senators to target to us regular folks, in an online poll.
The eight candidates for targeting, of which we are to pick three, are:
Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana)
Senator Evan Bayh (D-Indiana)
Senator Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota)
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California)
Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts)
Senator Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana)
Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-Connecticut)
Senator Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska)
I voted on July 14 2009 at 1014 PM.
For my first vote I have to give it to Ben Nelson. This guy is my Number One Enemy in the Senate, and if there’s a chance for any kind of pressure, challenge, attack, etc. on him I’ll jump right on it.
Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). Source: WeWantThePublicOption.com
For my other two votes it’s more difficult, because the goal should be to pressure those who are most vulnerable to pressure from the left and thus most receptive to changing their position to one in favor of the public option as a result of this pressure. Most of the Senators on the list aren’t really vulnerable. Kent Conrad and Mary Landrieu may be vulnerable but it would be from the right, not the left. The only Senator on this list who would be politically vulnerable from the left would be Joe Lieberman, whom I give my second vote.
Senator Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.). Source: WeWantThePublicOption.com
For my last vote, I’m ruling out Landrieu as she’s too conservative and from too much of a conservative state to care about leftist pressure. I can rule out Evan Bayh as he’s a self-centered, preening, grandstanding attention whore who cares more about his own ego than anything the left – or the American people, for that matter – has to say. (Plus, he’s immensely popular in his state, unfortunately.)
I think John Kerry’s inclusion on this list was unfair, as he only floated the idea of the trigger in the event that a straight public option didn’t have the votes to pass. (I don’t know for sure, but I suspect Conrad’s support for co-ops is along the same vein – for political pragmatism rather than ideological reasons.) My own Senator Dianne Feinstein is nearly undefeatable in her state and is passionately indifferent to public pressure from the left.
That leaves Kent Conrad and Max Baucus. Baucus, though having previously ruled out Medicare for All (and then, incredibly, regretting it), seems to have a favorable disposition towards the public option. On the other hand, he’s obsessed with bipartisanship (which does not include the public option) and he apparently doesn’t respond well to pressure, so efforts to target him may be useless or even counterproductive.
Conrad, on the other hand, has proposed co-ops as an alternative to the public plan as a way of moving a bipartisan bill forward. As I mentioned earlier, I get the feeling that he’s doing so more because he wants to get a bill passed than because he actually prefers co-ops to a national public health care program. Pressure from the left might actually convince him that the public option is a political winner in addition to being the best possible solution. So my last vote goes to Kent Conrad.
Senator Kent Conrad (D-N.D.). Source: WeWantThePublicOption.com