Monday, September 15, 2014

CRPD: If Senators Reid and McConnell Were Smart

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D, NV) has one thing at the top of his list – hoping/working to see that the Democrats retain control of the Senate. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, KY) has two – getting re-elected in November and working to secure control of the Senate. In tight races a vote on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) this month could directly affect specific races and control of the Senate. Reid and McConnell need to realize this.

First the numbers. Every two years 33/34 Senators out of 100 face re-election. This year 36 Senate races are in play, because of three special elections. The states in which Senate elections will occur are AL, AK, AR, CO, DE, GA, HI (special), ID, IL, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MA, MI, MN, MS, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NC, OK, OK (special), OR, RI, SC (special), SD, TN, TX, VA, WV, WY. (I highlighted those that are really in play.)  Currently Democrats hold 21 of these seats and Republicans hold 15 seats. It will take a six seat-shift for the Republicans to take control of the Senate. If the November 2014 election results in a 50-50 split, Democrats would retain control, because Vice President Joe Biden, the President of the Senate, could break any tie vote counts.

Democrats have a 10 Senator advantage, 55, 53 Democrats and two Independents who caucus with them (Sanders (VT) and King (ME)). Six to 12 seats are in play according to many sources. The most recent are and Republicans are estimated to hold the advantage by many sources who track polls, but shows the Democrats gaining leads in many contested races.

There 54 million people with disabilities in the U.S. Let’s assume for the sake of discussion a conservative 5.4 million know and care about the CRPD, and a measly 3 million vote this fall. Even though this estimate is modest, remember they have friends and relatives to whom they talk, who also vote. Then you have the veterans, business, and religious groups who have made CRPD a priority. So, in total we could have 5 million votes or more in play: voters, who vote for Senators, because the Senators voted for ratification of the CRPD; voters, who vote against Senators, because the Senators voted against the CRPD; AND, POTENTIAL VOTERS, WHO STAY HOME AND DON’T VOTE, IF THERE IS NO VOTE IN SEPTEMBER ON THE CRPD.

Here’s my take are where a vote in favor of the CRPD could help the incumbent:

Alaska.  Senator Mark Begich (D, AK) had things shifting in his favor till he associated his opponent with a killer, who killed two elderly people after an early release from prison. Begich's move has back-fired. The race is once again neck-in-neck. He should be urging Senator Reid for a CRPD vote to return to a more favorable footing with his voters. Disability organizations are very politically active in Alaska.

Arkansas.  Senator Mark Pryor (D, AR) is a centrist, in a dead heat with his opponent. He knows, like his father before him, that in mid-term elections like this year, the Republican base historically comes out in greater numbers than Democrat base. He should be saying to Senator Reid, “If you want to hold the Senate, you need to help me turn out my base. A vote on the CRPD would help make that happen.”

Kansas.  If Pat Roberts (R, KS) wants to keep his seat, he should want a vote on the CRPD in September. Senator Dole (former Senate Majority Leader, disabled vet, from Kansas) has urged Roberts to vote for the CRPD. Roberts has no Democrat opponent now, and his independent challenger is attracting many Democrat in addition to Independent votes. Roberts needs votes that show he has moved in the right direction on important issues like the CRPD.

Kentucky.  If Senator Rand Paul (R, KY), likely Republican presidential contender can shift to more moderate positions, as he has in recent days, Senator McConnell should welcome and push for  a vote on the CRPD in September to show he is a leader that Kentucky doesn’t want to lose. The disability and veteran communities are strong, politically active, and watching to see if McConnell has the wisdom to help get the CRPD to a vote.

Louisiana. Senator Mary Landrieu (D, LA) although safe in terms of absolute percentages, is likely to face a run off if she fails to get 50 percent in the open primary. If she were willing to speak up on the CRPD and ask Reid for a floor vote on the CRPD, that could get her the 2 to 3 percentage points she needs to get to 50 percent. In her state the disability community is savvy and inspired by leadership moves.

Mississippi. Thad Cochran (R, MI) learned through his primary the benefits of moving to the mainstream. A vote on the CRPD would help him secure his support among mainstream voters, people who care about civil rights.

North Carolina.  Senator Kay Hagan (D, NC) strongly supports the military and veterans. She should be urging Senator Reid to be holding a floor vote on the CRPD. She knows that 20+ national veterans groups actively support the CRPD and her Republican opponent is within striking distance of beating her as things are.

Those of us in the disability community want a vote on the CRPD in September. Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell need to take the long view. If they want to be viewed as leaders they must be willing to make smart choices. A vote on the CRPD promises some positive outcomes for both of them in the short term and for the U.S. in the long term. Failing to join hands and hold a vote will alienate potential voters – because the Senate will demonstrate its inability to act on something that makes so much sense.

If you agree with me, please let Senators Reid and McConnell know.

Thank you.
Common Grounder

No comments:

Post a Comment