In the rush to get this election out of the way, let’s reflect on the myriad of developments that combined to make up this awesome crazy cycle. One by one, the events have collided with each other, convincing us that it would be impossible for anything more unusual to happen. My mother still starts many of our conversations with “this is the best one yet” to describe some family or community happening.
Think about it: nobody would have known Christine O’Donnell unless Joe Biden was on the Obama ticket. Delaware wouldn’t even be in the rotation. Marco Rubio wouldn’t be running for the Senate if Mel Martinez hadn’t resigned. If Ted Kennedy and Bob Byrd were still alive, would anyone talk about Republicans in these Senate seats? Tell me Indiana and North Dakota would be on the list of automatic GOP gains if the incumbent Democrats were still running. Where would we find zing in this cycle if John McCain made a conventional choice for veep in 2008? Look at the following, not in chronological order, as you get your head ready for November 2.
- President Obama & vice president Biden leave the Senate after their 2008 election and then raid the Senate for Cabinet secretaries. The interim Senate replacements don’t match the qualities of the departing (especially in Illinois) and thereby put at least two additional Senate seats in play.
- Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania leaves the Republican Party and joins the Democrats. He then loses the Democratic nomination.
- Senator Mel Martinez (R FL) quits the Senate. Then Republican Governor Charlie Crist dithers over who can be trusted to be appointed (but not run for reelection) to the seat he wants but knows he can’t appoint himself.
- Former state legislator Marco Rubio of Florida tells Republican leaders to take a hike – he is running for the GOP Senate nomination no matter who tells him he can’t. Rubio’s 2009 momentum drives Crist out of the GOP and onto the ballot as an Independent.
- Senator Ted Kennedy (D MA) dies. The seat is filled in a special election in 2009. Republican Scott Brown wins, thereby reducing the number of seats needed for Republican control of the Senate to 10, and changing the mindset of grassroots activists about the potential in 2010.
- Senator Chris Dodd (D CT) decides to retire in response to awful poll numbers.
- Senator Evan Bayh (D IN) decides to retire after his state’s filing deadline has passed, preventing many Democrats from running.
- Senator Byron Dorgan (D ND) stuns colleagues with his decision to retire. Bipartisan favorite Governor John Hoeven (R) becomes a Senate candidate.
- Tea party insurgent Rand Paul (R KY) beats the establishment choice in the Kentucky Republican open seat.
- Senator Robert Byrd (D WV) dies and the state court rules there must be a special election in November 2010.