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A Virtual Reality: Media Already Hands GOP Control of Congress, but What Does That Mean for America?

It seems inevitable that the Republicans will take control of the U. S. Senate in January, but not at a veto-proof level. Republicans will retain control of the House and add some compatriots but not reach the veto-proof level. The House could hardly get more dysfunctional. With so many close races, all results may not be known for days or even months.

With both the Senate and House under Republican stewardship one might expect more conservative legislation. It will be necessary for President Obama to make clear up front what he will veto and to work more closely with congress on other bills to achieve a reasonable compromise. Maybe the Republicans will even realize they need an immigration bill, and it will just barely pass the stink test.

As explained here it appears that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has traveled extensively out of state to increase the number of Republican governors, has had little if any success. His campaign for the presidency does not seem to be doing much better. So maybe it's no surprise that during his recent visit to New Jersey he appeared unpleasantly, impatiently, and loudly angry at someone who questioned his management of Sandy recovery.

U. S. SENATE
Seven sites project the chances of Republicans taking over the Senate are between 64 and 96 percent. Closer to the midrange are the New York Times at 70 percent and Nate Silver at 74 percent. There is a range of six to ten seats that are considered toss-ups. (Civics lesson reminder: If the result were to be 50-50, Vice President Joe Biden would be able to cast tie-breaker votes.) The closest toss-up state is New Hampshire with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) vs. Scott Brown (R), where Shaheen seems to have a slight advantage. The most desirable toss-up win might be Kentucky's Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) vs. the mumbly, grumbly Sen. Mitch McConnell (R), but McConnell appears to have the edge.

In New Jersey Incumbent Senator Robert Menendez (D) is not up for re-election this year, but incumbent Senator Cory Booker (D) is sailing to success against a weak opponent. (Real Clear Politics Average: Booker +15.6.) However, Sen. Menendez (first elected in 2006) will lose his chairmanship of the important Foreign Relations Committee, and of the subcommittee on Housing and Community Development. Both he and Sen. Booker may lose membership in other committees.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
In the House, Republicans are gaining more seats, as the Washington Post and Politico project nine gains. Our Democratic congressmen (and soon to be woman or women) will have less access to committee memberships. However, New Jersey Republicans could pick up membership seats, and in certain committees influence favorable funding for our state. Our transportation/infrastructure, health, housing, education, and social services rely particularly on federal monies. It will be interesting to find out whether the small cadre of Tea Party types retain their firm grip on the agenda or whether more moderates gain ascendancy.

For New Jersey in the current session we have had six Democrats and six Republicans in Congress. It appears that, at worst, New Jersey will hold six Democratic seats — Donald Norcross (CD 1- open), Frank Pallone (CD 6), Albio Sires (CD 8), Bill Pascrell (CD 9,) Don Payne (CD 10) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (CD 12 - open). At best, Democrats may gain two seats: Aimee Belgard (CD 3 - open) and Roy Cho (CD 5). It would constitute a true sea change if Cho were to defeat Scott Garrett, who is New Jersey's most retrograde congressman on social, political, financial, and science related issues.

GUBERNATORIAL RACES
In spite of so many vexing problems to deal with at home, Christie has spent much of his time out of state ("37 states, many multiple times, and more than 70 days on the road this year") on a quest to increase the number of Republican governors. It appears he will fail in spite of raising $100 million in RGA funds. Such will not place him in good graces in the future with Republican governors he ignored and others he served unsuccessfully. In the closing days he scheduled trips to Kansas, Florida and Wisconsin where Republicans are facing the likelihood of losing and might benefit from his help.

He also scheduled trips to Iowa, Ohio, and South Carolina, where Republicans are all ahead in their races, but where there will be important presidential primaries. These latter trips fuel the suspicion that much of his travel this year has been to benefit his own presidential run. Such also raises the question as to who is paying for these side excursions. The Wall Street Journal reports that the "RGA is picking up the tab," including a jet for his use, but is the State paying for the time spent by State Police who provide security?

It's not too late to help get out the vote, and if you have not already done so, cast your ballot tomorrow. We are not facing Armageddon. For New Jersey's representatives in Washington it's largely status quo. The next two years nationally will be unpleasant, but will provide time to work toward a rebound in 2016.

 

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