Halting Lame Duck Mischief

Republicans could pick up as many as three “special election” seats in the U.S. Senate on November 2 that would give them 44 seats for a lame duck session after the election.

West Virginia, Illinois and Delaware are each holding special elections that would be filled immediately following the elections. And the GOP candidate is leading in the latest polls in two of the races.

A two or three seat pickup would likely sound a death knell for some big ticket legislation the current Democratic majority seeks to ram through before the newly elected 112th Congress is sworn in on Jan. 3, 2011.

The West Virginia Secretary of State’s election office tells HUMAN EVENTS the winner of November’s special election—to serve the remainder of the term of the late Robert Byrd—would be seated as soon as votes are counted, certified and the next session of the Senate begins.

John Raese is the Republican candidate running against a very popular incumbent Democrat governor, Joe Manchin. No election handicapper gave Raese a chance at the outset. Now Manchin trails in the two latest consecutive polls:  Rasmussen (48%-46%) and Public Policy Polling (46%-43%).

His soaring popularity as governor has not translated into support for another vote for Harry Reid’s lame duck agenda in the Senate. 

In Barack Obama’s adopted home state of Illinois, where the President’s approval rating hovers around 50%, Republican Mark Kirk leads Democrat Alex Giannoulias according to the latest Rasmussen survey of the race.

A federal court in Illinois ruled in July that two concurrent races must take place in Illinois on November 2: one to fill the seat for the lame duck session which completes the remainder of Obama’s term and a second vote to elect a new senator from Illinois to a new term in the 112th Congress.

Kirk and Giannoulias are the candidates in each of those elections.

In addition to his election as Vice President in 2008, Joe Biden was also re-elected as U.S. senator from Delaware. That term runs through 2014. The winner of this special election would also be seated for the lame duck session to fill the remainder of Biden’s term.

Self-described “bearded Marxist” Chris Coons is the Democrat’s nominee. Conservative Tea Party-backed Christine O’Donnell stunned liberal Republican Congressman Mike Castle to win the Republican primary.

Castle is reported to be considering a write-in candidacy for the election.

In a hypothetical three-way matchup between O’Donnell, Coons and Castle, O’Donnell trails Coons by nine points, 49%-40% with Castle taking 5%.

O’Donnell has been under a deluge of attacks from the hard left and “elites” in both parties—the likes of which has not been seen since Sarah Palin entered the 2008 presidential race as the Republican vice presidential nominee. 

Accurate numbers for the Delaware race will be difficult to immediately assess. The race is still amorphic and will be difficult to poll until independents and leaners solidify in the coming weeks.

One thing is clear: Democrats want to shove through the last remnants of their hard-left agenda right after the elections. Republicans need every single Senate seat to act as a buffer against any RINOs or disgruntled losers who may be inclined to vote with Democrats on a specific piece of legislation.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R.-Alaska) is a wild card and is not very fond of conservatives about now. Nothing like a lady scorned to make things interesting should she also lose her quixotic write-in bid for re-election after losing the Republican nomination to conservative Joe Miller.

The stakes are high. Legislation that could come under consideration in a lame duck session later this year:

• Cap-and-trade national energy tax.
• Legislation to bar the EPA’s plan to enact cap and trade through questionable regulation methods using Clean Air Act permitting.
• Obama tax hikes for job creators.
• Card check, a.k.a the Employee Free Choice Act, removing secret ballots for union certification.
• Amnesty or a slower, back-door DREAM Act amnesty allowing any illegal alien under the age of 15 a path to citizenship and consequently their entire families through chain migration.
• Over $3 billion more in Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac bailouts.
• Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal.
• Federal funding of embryonic stem cell research in the wake of a court injunction on Obama’s executive order to fund the destruction of embryos for research.