Slowing Brown Down (If He Wins)
Today's senatorial special election in Massachusetts has become one of the most riveting political dramas in recent memory. Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley held a strong advantage early in the race -- being a Democrat in one of the bluest of the blue states -- but a series of gaffes, controversial legal cases in her prosecutorial history, and her perceived arrogance have severely damaged her chances of occupying the Senate seat.
Meanwhile, Republican candidate Scott Brown, a little-known state senator, has become a symbol of democratic rebellion for a citizenry furious with the Democrat-led federal government. As the weekend closed, Coakley's campaign was still hemorrhaging support while Brown surged ahead to a slight lead. If Brown manages to defeat Coakley, he will become the 41st Republican senator and a symbolic but very real "no" vote against legislation that free-spending Democrats have been able to force through Congress up until this point, including the trillion dollar, government-rationed health care package dubbed "ObamaCare."
But while many have come to view a Brown victory as their last, best hope to derail socialized medicine, there is a sincere danger that Massachusetts Democrats, working in conjunction with a Pelosi House and Reid Senate, may attempt procedural tricks to thwart the will of voters and push through ObamaCare before Brown can be seated as a senator.
Mike Memoli and Kyle Trygstad made the case last week that Democrats could delay seating Brown for a month or even longer by waiting for a formal certificate of election signed by state officials, as noted in Rule II of the Standing Rules of the Senate. Until Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Secretary of State William F. Galvin -- both Democrats -- sign the certificate of election, Brown cannot become the crucial 41st vote against an increasingly socialist Democratic policy agenda. Galvin is already laying the groundwork for such a delay, citing the need to wait for absentee ballots and the five-day window to file absentee returns after they have been collected. Even Coakley agrees with the delay, claiming that interim Massachusetts Senator Paul G. Kirk Jr. will be the senator on record "until a new senator is sworn in." The certification may not come before February 20.
Democratic bloggers at HillBuzz think that their former allies might just be duplicitous enough to attempt holding up Brown's seating to force through the health care rationing bill. They suggest storming the Capitol in protest if such stalling tactics are used. Such a protest would be an unusual tactic for Republicans, but there is a good reason to think that such a display of public anger might serve to rattle those Democratic senators and representatives who stand to risk losing their seats in 2010 if they so brazenly oppose the will of their constituents.