The Madeleine Brand Show for February 29, 2012

Snowe and Dreier will not seek re-election, Romney wins in Michigan

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Congressman David Dreier, R-CA, announced that he will not be running for reelection.

Big news for the Republican party. This morning, Southern California Congressman David Dreier announced he's not seeking re-election.

Claremont McKenna College politics professor Jack Pitney said Dreier’s move comes as no surprise.

“Because of redistricting, he didn’t end up with a constituency he could run in without either Republican opposition or without facing dawning odds in the general election,” Pitney explained. “He hadn’t raised a lot of money, and by this time, most people in the political community had assumed that he wasn’t going to run,”

Dreier has been serving in Congress for over 30 years, and according to Pitney, leaving office deprives Southern California of a great deal of seniority and clout in the House of Representatives. “When the chairman of the rules committee (Dreier) calls you up and you’re a federal bureaucrat, you answer the phone,” he said.

Last night, another moderate Republican said she’s not running for another term, shocking even her staff. Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, who backed President Obama’s stimulus measure and voted for the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,' made her decision mainly due to ‘excessive partisanship.’

“She purportedly said she that didn’t like going to town hall meetings and facing the sometimes raucous and rude behavior people at town hall meetings on both sides of the aisle,” Pitney recalled.

Pitney said the retirements of two moderate Republicans and moderate democrats like Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson and Jim Webb will affect political proceedings.

“As William Butler Yeats wrote, ‘Things fall apart, the center cannot hold,’” he quoted. “People like Nelson on the Democratic side, Snowe on the Republican side, used to be part of the vital center. This is the area in the Congress where deals were made, and now that vital center is largely unpopulated. That’s going to make it very difficult to reach bipartisan compromises.”

He added that the absence of Dreier and Snowe will make it much more difficult for Republicans nation-wide, who were hoping to win control of the Senate.

Meanwhile, deep pockets and a strong organization make the difference for Mitt Romney in Michigan, as he defeated rival Rick Santorum by 3 percent, according to reports Wednesday morning.

“The majority of ads have been negative, and Mitt Romney has sustained some damages as a result. The key thing to watch for next week is Ohio; it’s a big state, it’s a state where Santorum has had a lead, but then again, Santorum, at one point, had a lead in Michigan, and Romney was able to whittle that down,” Pitney noted.

Romney spent twice as much money as Rick Santorum to defeat him in his native state of Michigan, but according to exit polls by The New York Times, Romney still hasn't won over a strong slice of the Republican base.

“If he could do the same thing in Ohio, at that point, his chances of sealing up the nomination improve dramatically. If Santorum wins Ohio, than this race is going to go on for awhile,” Pitney said.

Guest:

Jack Pitney, politics professor at Claremont McKenna College.


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