How a President Romney might make the Senate more conservative

New Administrations need experience in their ranks and look to Congress, the Governorships across the country and high positions in big business to fill those ranks. When an appointment of someone currently serving as a Governor, Congressman or Senator is made, a special election is held to fill that vacancy, giving the opposition party a chance to reclaim it.

Barack Obama appointed 2nd term Kansas Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius to be his Secretary of Health and Human Services and Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano to serve as Secretary of Homeland Security. Both Governorships are now held by Republicans.

Those were Republican states, so the change wasn’t too much of a shock, however in 2010, Barack Obama’s Illinois senate seat was filled by Republican Mark Kirk and the seat in Delaware vacated by Joe Biden was poised to be so much of a shoe-in for a Republican pickup by Mike Castle that Bidens son turned down the option to run for his fathers seat and lose. Republicans in Delaware, however, denied Mike Castle the nomination and instead ran Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell who handily lost to her politically unknown opponent who now resides in Washington.

In 2012, the selection of states with senate elections is particularly favorable to Republicans and we predict that regardless of the Presidential results, that the Republicans will keep the House but narrowly miss out on winning control over the Senate.

But could things get even better for the party – and more importantly: for the party’s conservative base – if  it takes over the Presidency as well? At the time of this writing, Mitt Romney is poised to capture the nomination, and we will operate under the conceit that he will go on to do so, although the following analysis would admittedly apply to any of his competitors. The number of those below who support and have endorsed Romney, however, makes this selection particularly apt to him in particular.

Any Republican in and out of elected office could possibly be appointed anywhere, but this list is one that combines 1) the most moderate (ie: least conservative) Senators, 2) the ones most likely to be on short lists for cabinet appointments and 3) are from traditionally Republican states, making a higher than average likelihood of their successors not only being of the same party, but being more to the right than they were.

Here is the list of people whom Mitt Romney could appoint to his administration to thus make the Senate more conservative:

John McCain: The conservative base has been annoyed by moderate-McCains brand of Republicanism most vocally since he lost the Presidential nomination to George W Bush in 2000. Since then, McCains left leaning votes in the senate only made things worse and he secured the nomination for President in 2008, only to be successfully smeared as being no different than George W Bush. So the man is useless to conservatives: He fights against them in the senate and then the one time where his moderate party bucking history could have helped them keep the Whitehouse, he fails and it gives us the most left wing president we’ve ever experienced. All this sounds like it would make McCain easy to primary out of the party and out of Washington, yet he remains invincible.

McCain won re-election in 2010 and even though he stated this would be his last term as senator, it would be nice if the right could replace him sooner. That leaves only early retirement/resignation, cabinet appointment or death – and since we we know he would never resign except for health reasons and since we here wish the senator many more years to his life, we suggest and hope for an appointment by the man McCain has endorsed in the Republican primary.

Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense would fit McCains strong points and persona nicely and we’re putting him at the top of this list because such a venue of service is the Senators last major shot to bookend his political life. A position having to do with Veterans would also fit nicely. He served the country in Vietnam, he served as Senator, he tried to serve as President and now a high ranking job within the Presidency is the last best fit for McCain to go rather than fizzle the remainder of his political career by serving out his current senate term and retiring.


Lisa Murkowski: The moderate and often times left-of-center senator from Alaska faced re-election in 2010 and failed to capture the Republican nomination, losing to Sarah Palin endorsed Tea Party candidate and former magistrate judge Joe Miller. Murkowski went on to make history by mounting a write-in campaign and defeated the Republican, Miller and the Democrat whom no one cares about, winning re-election without her parties nomination. Murkowski remains a Republican in the senate, however she also remains a pro-choice, big government stalwart.

Murkowski may not want to fight another primary battle in 5 years and may welcome a cabinet appointment. The vacated seat would almost certainly stay Republican and even more certainly be that of a more conservative Republican than Murkowski.

In December of 2011, Murkowski endorsed Mitt Romney in the GOP Primary.


Lindsay Graham: A close McCain friend and ally who endorsed him in 2000 and served as national co-chairman of McCain’s 2008 presidential bid, Graham is notorious for being too moderate for the party base and poking them in their collective eye on key issues.

Graham has a knack for being “conservative enough” on the main issues to keep his parties support, while taking the McCain/Huntsman path in the public eye and criticizing his party frequently.

He is also notorious for being a policy and procedural wonk and would make a good cabinet appointment for Romney, opening the South Carolina senate seat for a more appealing conservative candidate to run and win in a special election.

Graham has not endorsed anyone in the GOP Primary.


Orin Hatch: The conservative, but moderately conservative senator has been in office for 35 years, is running for re-election in 2012 and, having already survived a Tea Party primary, is likely to win in 2012.

Hatch’s experience in the senate makes him a perfect cabinet appointment and the open seat in conservative Utah is the surest shot in the country to elect a much more conservative, younger Republican Senator in his place.

As detailed below, there is reason to believe Hatch may not not be campaigning for a cabinet position, but 50/50 odds on whether he would be considered for and accept one.

Romney has endorsed Senator Hatch for re-election and Hatch has endorsed Mitt Romney in the GOP Primary.


Richard Lugar: the senior United States Senator from Indiana is the longest-serving Senator in Indiana’s history and is running for re-election in 2012. He is likely to win despite the strong Tea Party opposition he faces and many fear he could be successfully primaried but pull a Murkowski in the general election and win.

One problem is that as the most senior Republican member of the Senate, Lugar will likely be elected President pro tempore of the Senate should Republicans gain control of the body in 2012. This fact combined with the fact that Lugar is running for re-election at all, could suggest that he is not interested in a cabinet appointment. Along this same line: Orrin Hatch disputes the claim that Lugar is the most senior Republican, based on a different interpretation of the Republican Conference’s seniority rules, which could suggest that Hatch too would rather stay in the Senate for the remainder of his career.

When a president calls you to serve, however, not many men and women refuse, so too much should not be read into these details.

Possible Bonus Seat:

Thad Cochran: The senator from conservative Mississipi is 74 and has been in the senate for 33 years. Cochran’s voting record is considered fairly moderate by Southern Republican standards. He has a lifetime rating of 80 from the American Conservative Union. In 2008, he garnered a rating of 68 from the ACU; the only Republican Senators from Southern states to score lower were Mel Martinez of Florida and John Warner of Virginia.


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