GOP borrows money for Senate races

October 28, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Next Tuesday, the lead story will no longer be the presidential campaign, but the presidential vote count.

Both candidates are now going all out before Election Day. Tuesday's ABC News tracking poll shows Senator Barack Obama still leading Senator John McCain, 52 to 45 percent. Those numbers indicate McCain could use a boost, but the Republican Party is pouring millions of borrowed money, not into his campaign, but into senate races nationwide.

This is a last minute push by the Republicans to hold strong against the Democratic tidal wave expected to hit on Election Day. The GOP's primary concern is to keep the power of the filibuster alive in the senate.

With John McCain lagging in the polls, it appears the GOP is now eyeing the senate as its last, best chance to hold on to any semblance of power in Washington. Tuesday, the Republican National Committee announced its borrowing $5 million to pour into key senate races. Eleven seats, now held by Republicans, are up for grabs.

"The Darwin reality is, save yourself, save your members, so that's what the Senate is doing right now. They're saving their members to save their leadership," said Sean Walsh, a GOP strategist.

However, with an unpopular president and the economy struggling, there's little doubt several seats will turn over to the Democrats. The big question is how many? Democrats currently hold a slight voting majority of 51. If they pick up as many as nine, that would give democrats 60 seats, the magic number to override a filibuster, which would essentially deprive Republicans of their ability to talk to death legislation they oppose.

"We are feeling very good that we are going to pick up a successful amount of the larger number of seats and have a successful election. As for 60? It is possible," said Senator Charles Schumer (D) of New York.

Possible yes, but the likelihood that a filibuster-proof majority would mean Democrats will be able to pass anything they want, doubtful.

"The Democratic Party is not nearly as unified as people give them credit for. And so I think the magic number of 60 is a little bit overstated. I think really the Democrats are looking at 64, 65 before they really have a run of the place," said Professor Corey Cook, Ph.D., from University of San Francisco's department of politics.

Even so, Republicans are doing everything they can to prevent Democrats from reaching that magic number of 60. GOP Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina launched an ad warning voters of one-party rule.

"Kay Hagan. If she wins, they get a blank check," said an ad in opposition to Hagan.

It's been a while since either party had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. The Democrats last had such a majority from 1977 to 1979.


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