Senate Republicans seem pretty confident they can get things past a Democratic filibuster in the Senate to force president Obama to veto things. There's three scenarios there:
- Mitch McConnell will use budget reconciliation tricks to require a 51-vote majority with no filibuster on things like Obamacare,
- Senate Republicans will get rid of/severely limit the filibuster altogether,
- There's enough Democrats that will vote with the GOP to break a 60-vote filibuster.
TPM's Sahil Kapur looks at scenario three there and identifies six Dems who can be flipped. Regular readers should be able to guess who they are already.
If he does manage to keep his caucus united, here are McConnell's six top Democratic prospects for reaching 60 votes.
Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri
It took Todd Akin of "legitimate rape" notoriety to save McCaskill from electoral doom in 2012, and this second-term Missourian recognizes that she can't vote in lock-step with her party if she wants to stay in the good graces of her conservative-leaning state. Look for her to side with Republicans from time to time to appease her right flank, on issues such as the Keystone pipeline.
Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia
This conservative Democrat has always looked for ways to make himself attractive to West Virginians, from literally shooting the cap-and-trade bill in a campaign ad to voting against Reid on filibuster reform. With the ranks of conservative Democrats diminished in the wake of the 2014 blowout, Manchin will look for opportunities to tout his bipartisan bona fides.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota
Heitkamp won her first Senate election in 2012 by a razor-thin 1 percent margin in deep-red North Dakota. Not shy about breaking with her party, she was one of just four Democrats who voted to block the popular gun background checks legislation in 2013 — the other three have retired or lost reelection. Expect her to hunt for issues where she can align herself with the new Republican majority.
Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana
Donnelly largely owes his seat to Indiana Republicans who threw out an untouchable incumbent in 2012 in favor of a candidate to imploded amid a rape gaffe in the general election. One of the more conservative Democrats, he'll likely be willing to partner with McConnell's Republicans in some cases, such as reversing the 30-hour work week definition under Obamacare.
Sen. Angus King of Maine
King, a progressive-leaning independent who says he'll continue to caucus with Democrats, has often looked for ways to polish his nonpartisan credentials. In two years as a senator, King has tried to play deal-maker and split with Democrats on issues like gun control and student loans.
Sen. Jon Tester of Montana
Tester survived reelection in the Democrat-friendly year of 2012, but his party got wiped out this year in the race for Montana's other Senate seat. Tester has been willing to buck Democratic leaders at times, most notably when he helped kill the DREAM Act by filibuster in 2010.
Of those six, Manchin and King are going to be the largest problems, but McCaskill is wholly involved in her own self-aggrandizement as well, and the rest can be counted on from time to time to play the same role Olympia Snowe did as a Maine Republican and Evan Bayh did as an Indiana Democrat: the person who will make the call on pass or fail and who can extract the most from both sides.
Manchin is especially keen on allowing the GOP majority to pass bills.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) made in clear in an interview published Monday that he has no plans to support Democrats who want to take a page out of the GOP playbook by obstructing the new Republican majority.
"That's bullshi—…. I'm not going to put up with that," Manchin told Politico when discussing the prospect of Democrats blocking the Republican agenda over the next two years.
Manchin didn't appear to be alone either. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) also talked about the need to get something done.
"Our caucus needs to take a hard look at the way we do things and make sure we are putting the policy issues first before politics," McCaskill told Politico. "The habit we got into in doing nothing, no one was happy with that. I hope that we never go back to that."
In other words, if you thought President Snowe jokes were annoyingly accurate in 2009, you've not seen anything yet with these six lovely individuals, who won't waste a minute in rushing to screw over Obama heading into 2016.
And Manchin? Well, don't be surprised if he decides to stay in West Virginia and run for Governor again, opening the door for a second GOP senator from that state in 2016 to go along with Shelly Moore Capito's win last week.
What a guy, huh?