Quid Pro Quo?

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When Sen. Kennedy died, the chairmanship of the Senate HELP Committee came open.  Everyone assumed Sen. Chris Dodd, who’s next in seniority and has been running the committee during Kennedy’s illness, would take over.

In a surprise move today, Dodd declined to do so.

That means Sen. Tom Harkin will take over.  And here’s where things get interesting.  Because Harkin’s plate is already so full, he’ll have to step down as chairman of the Agriculture Committee.  So who’ll take over Agriculture?  Why, Sen. Blanche Lincoln.

Here’s why I find that interesting.

As a Democrat from a deep red state, Lincoln is very vulnerable in 2010.  Recent polls have shown her running behind both of her likely GOP challengers.  Suddenly becoming the chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee could do wonders for her re-election chances in a fundamentally agricultural state.

Lincoln has been one of the Dems most vocal about her disinclination to vote for any health care reform legislation that includes a public option.

So my question is this: did the Senate leadership make a deal to get Lincoln’s vote on health care reform in exchange for giving her a chairmanship that’s worth its weight in gold back in her state?

It’ll be interesting to watch Lincoln’s rhetoric over the coming few weeks, and, ultimately, her vote.

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One Response to “Quid Pro Quo?”

  1. Terry A. Says:

    Seems like Lincoln’s in no (wo)man’s land. She’s become too conservative for the Democrats and is, of course, way too liberal for the Republicans.

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