Dayton v. Kennedy

Returning Senator Mark Dayton to the Ranks of the Idle Rich in 2006


Great Expectations

For too long the U.S. Senate has been a graveyard for innovative legislation. This is partially because the Founders correctly designed a system whereby the Senate would be a more deliberative body designed to cool the passions of the 'vulgar' House. Nevertheless, with the Senate populated for the first time with a majority of former House members, we can expect many long-sought conservative reforms to come to fruition. This year 6 former Republican Representatives -- many from the class of 1994 -- made the move to the upper chamber:

Call them the five horsemen of the Republican Revolution: incoming US Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, John Thune of South Dakota, and David Vitter of Louisiana.

Their arrival in the US Senate next week gives a powerful boost to both fiscal and social conservatives on issues ranging from judicial nominations and abortion rights to tax reform. It also tips the number of former House members in the Senate to 52 percent - the first time it has passed a majority. More than just an additional five GOP votes, they bring a hard-driving style and ideological focus that is at odds with the collegial culture of the Senate.

"The big question is to what extent they will maintain their House attitudes and behavior ... and the uncompromising, disputatious positions that House members are likely to take," says Ross Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

There's already speculation about how this group will interact with Republican colleagues, especially the moderates who often swayed key votes in the last Congress. They could transform the tone of an institution that has been tottering between its clubby past and the more disciplined, partisan style of the US House.
Minnesota, for its part, will have a choice in 2006 between a calcified patrician whose concept of reform and innovation is the Great Society and a reformer who understands the promise of an ownership society.


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