Remember when Republican lawmakers were pilloried for voting against the bailout because they feared Democrats would tag vulnerable Republicans as doing the bidding of big business? Well, it turns out that anti-bailout sentiment is still strong in many part of America, and the Democrats are exploiting that in an attempt to knock out a crucial GOP Senator.
Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss, a Republican, voted for the bailout when it came before the Senate. Prior to the vote he enjoyed a double digit lead over his Democratic opponent, Jim Martin, who says he would have voted no. Martin has been relentlessly haranguing Chambliss over the vote, mentioning it in nearly every public appearance. Chambliss is down to just a few points above Martin.
Now the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic party’s main organ for trying to increase their operational majority in the Senate, is letting loose with an attack ad blasting Chambliss for supporting the bailout.
“What’s Saxby Chambliss been up to in Washington? Supporting George Bush’s economic policies, every step of the way. That gave us higher food prices, a $10 trillion national debt, and a $700 billion Wall Street bailout,” the ad says.
With Barack Obama enjoying a huge lead in the polls, the Democrats hope to make big gains in the Senate. Democrats currently hold 49 seats, giving them a bare operational majority because independents Joe Lieberman and Barry Sanders generally vote with them. They need to win 10 of the 11 Senate races viewed by most analysts as competitive in order to achieve the goal of having a filibuster proof 60 Senator majority. (For a fuller analysis of the election from my brother, Tim Carney, click here.)
The Democrats are likely to win eight of the 10 seats they need. In three races—Kentucky, Georgia and Mississippi—the GOP candidates hold small leads. A Chambliss defeat over the bailout would mean the Democrats would need just a split in the Kentucky and Mississippi race.
Hope the GOP Senate leadership is proud of getting the bailout passed. It may well be their epitaph.