Their moments came outside prime time, but the candidates Senate Democratic leaders hope will propel them to their biggest majority in decades also had their time in the spotlight at the Democratic convention.
After spending months trying to tamp down expectations, Democrats are openly discussing the possibility that they could net the nine seats that would bring them to the magic number of 60, a tally that would make it much more difficult for Republicans to filibuster their agenda in Congress next year. With that goal in sight, Democrats are working to energize activists in Denver to focus their agenda not only on Barack Obama's campaign but also on an array of races from Oregon to North Carolina, many of which were once viewed as all but out of reach for the party.
"Embrace it? Sure, it's like the beautiful girl I can't reach, but I'd love to embrace her," Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in an interview this week.
On the stump and in e-mail solicitations to supporters, Senate Democrats are arguing that electing Obama and running mate Joseph R. Biden Jr. to the White House won't allow their party to reach its goals unless they have a large enough majority to quickly enact the Obama agenda.
"Unless we give them a filibuster-proof Senate majority that can finally end the obstruction, we'll never put this country back on track," Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (
Neither party has held 60 seats in the chamber since 1977 and 1978, when Democrats controlled 61 seats. Republicans still reject the idea that Democrats can win in conservative states such as Texas, Mississippi or Kentucky, some of which would need to fall to Democrats for them to reach 60. There are currently 49 Democrats and two independents who caucus with them in the chamber, facing off against 49 Republicans.
Comment: When I consider the growing power of the U.S. Senate and in the office of the President, which most notably Bush the Younger has increased at the expense of the citizenry and U.S. Constitution, it becomes incredibly frightening to consider a potential former Senator holding the office of President while his party has complete control of the Senate; a “filibuster-proof Senate.” The same holds true if McCain should win and the Democrats still win 60 seats. In either case the U.S. Senate will be running this country.