January 2009: Government Affairs


January 2009

2008 Election Re-cap and 2009 Early Preview

1-09_art_keelen_falenkiMatthew B. Keelen and Michael J. Falencki

Now that the 2008 elections have concluded, it is time to analyze the results and finalize strategic advocacy plans for the next Congress, scheduled to begin with the swearing-in of the 111th Congress and first votes on Jan. 6, 2009.

Senate synopsis
In the hotly contested Senate races, Democrats gained seven seats, bringing their total to 58, still short of a filibuster-proof majority. Republicans hold 41 seats. The Minnesota race has not yet been decided, as incumbent Senator Norm Coleman (R) leads challenger Al Franken (D) in the ballot-by-ballot recount by 192 votes (as of Dec. 9).

Following is the list of new Democratic Senators, and the percentages by which they won their seats:

House synopsis
Many analysts predicted that House Republicans would lose a number of seats, with some predictions as high as a 30-40 seat loss range. In the end, House Democrats gained 20 seats, giving them a 256-177 vote advantage.

Very telling are the locations of Democrat seat pick-ups:

AL-2, AZ-1, CO-4, CT-4, FL-24, FL-8, ID-1, IL-11, MD-1, MI-7, MI-9, NC-8, NJ-3, NM-1, NM-2, NV-3, NY-13, NY-25, NY-29, OH-1, OH-15, OH-16, PA-3, VA-11, and VA-2.

Republicans picked up the following seats: FL-16, KS-2, LA-2, LA-6, and TX-22.

Presidential synopsis
The Democratic Obama-Biden ticket convincingly won the 2008 Presidential election with 52.9 percent of the popular vote and 365 electoral votes. The McCain-Palin GOP ticket lost with 45.7 percent of the popular vote and 173 electoral votes. To put this in recent historical context, in the 2004 Presidential election, Bush-Cheney won 286 electoral votes, while Kerry-Edwards lost the election with 252 electoral votes. In the 2000 Presidential election, Bush-Cheney won 271 electoral votes, while Gore-Lieberman lost the election with 267 electoral votes.

Gubernatorial synopsis
Of the 11 gubernatorial elections, only one state changed party. Democrats picked up the governorship of Missouri, where Attorney General Jay Nixon beat Congressman Kenny Hulshof with 58 percent of the vote. Democrats also maintained the open North Carolina seat, where Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue beat former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory with 50 percent of the vote.

So, with the new makeup in the Administration and Congress, what does this mean for the legislative agenda in the 111th Congress, particularly, the agenda of the MCAA? It is anticipated that the various segments of the Democratic party will push for various policy items, with long laundry lists being pushed by Speaker Pelosi and many liberals, including climate-change legislation, tax reform, alternative energy proposals, and healthcare reform.

President-elect Obama already has championed five platforms for a stimulus package to be considered immediately. These policy items include the following:

  • Making public buildings more energy efficient
  • Funding for roads, bridges and other parts of the country’s physical infrastructure
  • Repairing and modernizing schools
  • Providing broadband access to more parts of the country
  • Making sure all hospitals and doctors’ offices have access to patients’ electronic medical records.

In addition to this stimulus, Congress also will consider the reauthorizations of the highway bill, aviation bill and defense programs, which is likely to include

military housing. The annual Military Construction bill (MilCon) also will be considered, and some of the major policy reform bills could address items such as the estate tax, 3% withholding, AMT, workplace safety issues, and immigration.

We expect the 111th Congress to be active on a number of issues, and it is crucial that the MCAA be prepared to participate in the policy crafting and amendment process by educating members of Congress on our issues and identifying our champions on the Hill. The 111th Congress will present many opportunities for the MCAA to advance our agenda, and we must be prepared to move quickly to take advantage of the early onslaught of legislation.

The Keelen Group looks forward to working with the MCAA to score policy victories, and we are always here to answer any questions.

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