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March 20, 2009 02:43 AM UTC

Udall Trades, Bennet Looks Beyond Vaporware Primary

  • by: Colorado Pols

The Denver Post follows up on yesterday’s “big story” that Colorado Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet have ganged up with other “moderate” Democrats to do…the stuff that moderates do (more on that in a moment).

Both Mark Udall and Michael Bennet have joined a group of Senate Democrats who Wednesday rolled out a centrist bloc likely to have outsized influence over the fate of President Barack Obama’s legislative agenda.

Led by Sens. Evan Bayh of Indiana, Tom Carper of Delaware and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, the roughly 15-member group is dubbing itself the Moderate Dems Working Group. It will also include key figures such as Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, a pivotal negotiator in the stimulus debate.

But positioned at the fulcrum of the Senate’s precarious power balance, the group and its members also are quickly becoming a major target of the party’s left…

Like we said yesterday, this move to publicly identify with cheesy opportunists like Evan Bayh is a little curious, but nothing we (unlike, it seems, most of the hand-wringing liberal blogosphere) are going to pre-judge before the actual votes on a broad variety of issues later this year. It’s the success or failure of that agenda that will define Bennet, Udall, and Obama–the Post adds:

Both Udall and Bennet said that rather than obstruct the president’s agenda, they were trying to get controversial bills through a Senate that requires at least some Republican buy-in. [Pols emphasis]

Bennet, who was appointed to replace Sen. Ken Salazar in January, said, “The idea is that early on, there is a group of people who want to get together and think through some of these issues and figure out how we can help the president push his agenda here.”

“This moderate group is about finding solutions to tough problems. They’re helping Obama get important bills passed, but sometimes you have to compromise to make that happen,” said Udall spokeswoman Tara Trujillo.

For all the rage vented on anybody who dares to utter the word “compromise” these days, Congress couldn’t have passed a stimulus package without compromise. We didn’t love some of the cuts made to the package if you recall but we’re mature enough to admit it was preferable to no package.

People who know Mark Udall will tell you that these moments are his finest. While we find it a little off politically, we do know he’s not part of any “moderate working group” intending to ‘obstruct’ Obama’s agenda–he honestly wants to get legislation passed, and is willing to do the hard, unpopular work of compromising to get a deal done. A friend of Udall told us recently that he ran for Senate “because that’s where all his bills died” as a congressman–not the words of an ‘august chamber’ obstructionist. And the fact is, Democrats don’t have 60 votes to ram legislation through with–so Udall’s thankless job is going to be in high demand, if the Kos purists want anything to show for the Democrats in 2010.

As for Bennet, the picture is a little more complicated and he has more nuanced considerations looking at election next year. But for all the endless chatter about a primary, very little support has really emerged for that among principal Democrats–and despite the pressure being lined up by various interest groups in support of this or that ‘key legislation,’ we just don’t think any one vote is the litmus test that makes or breaks Bennet. Though he does need to firm his credentials up with the Democratic base, a number of marquee votes coming up in the next few months will give him that opportunity. Assuming he comes through in at least the preponderance of those tests, bipartisan street cred is something voters in a general election insist on–and shouldn’t hurt Bennet any more than it hurt Ken Salazar.

Bottom line: Judge them by what they do. That’s all that matters, the rest of this is about posturing for the camera and making Olympia Snowe giggle–punctuated by the successful passage of Obama’s agenda, considered by the majority of Americans to be a good thing. Even at Daily Kos.


10 thoughts on “Udall Trades, Bennet Looks Beyond Vaporware Primary

    1. n. a computer-related product that has been widely advertised but has not and may never become available.

      Brilliantly applied if you ask me.

    1. This is a group of Democrats formed for the duration. The Gang of 14 was a Demo & GOP group formed for one specific purpose: keeping the GOP from destroying minority rights over judicial nominations.  

  1. Yes we understand that you have undying love for Saint Mark of Udall and hey, we all have our favorites. And you are right that what’s key is what they get passed, and secondarily how they vote.

    But I think it’s a little early to start singing anyone’s praises aside from the three Republicans who crossed over to get the stimulus passed. Let’s wait and see what happens.

    1. bottom line here I think is that Udall is trying to be a level-headed negotiator between Republicans and Democrats, and that we should recognize that and encourage that. Whether it’s just posturing at this point (it’s true he hasn’t been a major broker yet the way Salazar was), but he’s posturing in the right way and direction, and that’s a good thing.

      1. He’s joined a new group. We have no idea what impact the group will have as it’s new. We have no idea what impact Udall will have within the group. And Mark Udall positioning himself right in the middle is nothing new.

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