This report from RedState.com, sent to me by a Senate staffer, is the best piece I have read about the Republican Senate leadership race. Hutchison is prominently featured. Although RedState is no fan of Hutchison, the article views her as crucial to conservatives’ long-term prospects, because (1) They don’t like Lamar Alexander either — like KBH, too moderate — and (2) her pending departure from the Senate to run for governor will open up her leadership spot to be won by a conservative. RedState’s view is that Hutchison will win the chairmanship of the Republican conference, as I reported was likely in an earlier post.
In the slow pace of the Senate, the wheels are already moving to replace Trent Lott and we could see a win for conservatives.
As it appears right now, Jon Kyl will become the Minority Whip.
Kay Bailey Hutchison will kill off challenges by both Messrs. Burr and Alexander to be Conference Chairman if she decides to run. She’s still making calls and weighing options.
If KBH does run, then John Cornyn will ascend to the Policy Committee.
I expect Jeff Sessions to run and get elected as Vice Chairman of the Policy Committee Conference.
Cornyn will be a much better Policy Chair than KBH, who has excluded staffers from meetings who she deemed were too far to the right from her. She won’t be Conference Chairman for long, since she’s going to run for Governor in 2010.
The irony in all of this is that the fate of conservatives in the Senate rests with Kay Bailey Hutchison. We actually should support her.
While incremental, let’s toy with this playing out:
After 2008, McConnell either wins or loses. If he loses, Jon Kyl will probably become Minority Leader, moving up from Whip. If McConnell wins, he might still face a coup if the GOP Senate conference feels the need to go in a new, more conservative direction after a disastrous 2008 election cycle. If the GOP does get slaughtered at the polls, it will likely be moderate Senators bearing the brunt of the voters anger, making the remaining GOP caucus more conservative and more willing to vote their own into leadership. So, Kyl might take the reins then too.
With Kyl as leader, Cornyn will run for Whip, with a reduced number of Republican Senators, but a more conservative group. Sessions will get to Policy, which is what he wants, and that leaves DeMint available to be the Party’s message guy in Conference Chair. That’ll leave open a slot as VP for Conference, which a good conservative could fill.
Imagine, post 2008, having the top Senate Republicans be, in order: Kyl, Cornyn, DeMint, Sessions, and an as yet to be determined conservative.
One note, just so I don’t get accused of anything I don’t mean — I’m not hoping that the GOP gets wiped out in 2008. I hope, in fact, that it doesn’t. But I can see the writing on the wall. And sometimes, it takes hitting rock bottom for addicts to want recovery — especially when they’re addicted to earmarks. Let’s just pray to God that if we do get slaughtered that we don’t fall under 41.