Shorter Republicans: "We forgive Michael Bennet for trying to win the Senate." Shorter Sen. Bennet: "Glad we're still friends."
by Gaius Publius
Sen. Michael Bennet was head of the DSCC for this election cycle. The DSCC (Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee) is the party organization responsible for increasing Democratic control of the Senate, or at least not losing it. But as you know, Michael Bennet did lose the Senate to Republicans, or certainly helped to lose it — and Republicans now publicly forgive him for it.
How is that not "Thank you, and welcome back"?
Keep in mind that no DSCC chair had lost a home state seat. Bennet broke that record, watching his fellow Colorado Democrat, Mark Udall, defeated by hard-right Republican Cory Gardner. Gardner holds no grudges, though, and joins in the forgiveness:
Call him charmed
or calculating, but U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet was one of the few
Democrats to emerge from his party's drubbing on Tuesday with little
more than a political paper cut.
Sounds like an insult, but apparently it's praise to Bennet:
It's an impressive feat,
especially because Bennet has spent the past two years running the
Democratic machine that tried — and failed — to land the one-two punch
of re-electing Colorado Democrat Mark Udall and keeping his party in
control of the Senate....
At the same time,
several top Republicans, including Cory Gardner, said they were willing
to look past Bennet's role as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial
"Look, that was Michael Bennet's job,"
Gardner said fewer than 24 hours after ousting Udall. "He did what he
believed he had to do to fulfill his duties. I look forward to working
Bennet's desire to
preserve his middle-of-the-road persona, in fact, was one reason he
initially balked at becoming DSCC chairman. After turning down the job
in 2010, he thought about the offer for about a month before accepting the reins for the 2014 campaign.
But as "risky" (to bipartisanship) as it was for Bennet to serve as DSCC chair, there were rewards as well — access to money:
... wanted to make sure it would not interfere with my ability to work
in a bipartisan way in the Senate," Bennet said in 2012.
taking a turn at the helm of the DSCC — or its counterpart, the National
Republican Senatorial Committee — often is a prerequisite for
politicians looking to rise in the ranks. Another benefit: DSCC and
NRSC chairs get to know the big-money donors in their parties. And with
Bennet up for re-election in 2016, this kind of network could prove
So apparently Bennet's goals were (1) reluctantly help the "team," so long as he (2) kept his bipartisan standing with conservative Republicans, and (3) forged closer ties to the big money financing elections. I'm not ready to impugn Bennet's job (yet), but even he seems apologetic for trying too hard.
"The contacts you make in that position carry on for many, many years," said Rick Ridder, a veteran Democratic consultant.
Is there a bipartisan corporate caucus in the Senate? Of course. Is that caucus run out of the leadership offices of both parties? Of course. As I told Sam Seder in an upcoming Ring of Fire broadcast, "This isn't a conspiracy, this Democratic willingness to surrender — it's out in plain sight. You just have to look at it."