With the Alaska U.S. Senate seat now decided (Republican incumbent Ted Stevens finally conceded to Democratic challenger Mark Begich), the Democrats now hold 58 seats of the crucial 60 needed to become a “super majority”, preventing any type of Republican negotiation power in the Senate.
There are two Senate seats still to be decided. The Georgia Senate Runoff Election, to be held this Tuesday December 2, is the most critical race in the country. Incumbent Senator, Saxby Chambliss (R), hopes to defend his seat against opponent, Jim Martin (D).
The other open seat is the Minnesota race between incumbent Senator Norm Coleman (R) and first-time runner, comedian Al Franken (D). This election result is in a recount and may not be decided until mid-December.
How close is the Chambliss/Martin race? A Thanksgiving week Mellman Group poll for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee shows Chambliss leading Martin by only 2 percentage points – 48% to 46%. But a conflicting Public Policy Polling Survey from the same time period from shows Chambliss at 52% and Martin at 46%.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, President-elect Obama has left 25 of his Georgia field offices open for Martin, including in-state paid staff, and about 100 field operatives from other Southern states have been sent to help Martin’s campaign.
Michael Reagan, radio host, author and son of President Reagan, has joined with the National Republican Trust PAC (Political Action Committee) in endorsing Chambliss.
Georgia Public Broadcasting reports that the latest FEC filings show Jim Martin has raised $2.4 million to Chambliss’ $1.9 million in October-November to support their bids for the seat.
Meanwhile, in Minnesota: As of November 24, Norm Coleman led Al Franken by just over 200 votes at last count, out of 2.9 million cast. Franken had contested the original results, and the number during recounts has been changing ever since.
Both the Georiga and Minnesota races are crucial to pro-life advocates:
Saxby Chambliss has voted 100% for pro-life issues over the years. Jim Martin has been an outspoken advocate of abortion on demand. As chairman of the Georgia House Judiciary Committee in 1997, Martin refused to even allow a vote on a bill banning partial birth abortion even after an overwhelming majority of members on the committee voted in favor of it.
Martin also voted against Parental Notification before an abortion is performed on a minor. This bill simply required notification to parents before an abortion – it did not require parental consent.
Martin and Franken would undoubtedly support President-elect Obama in signing “FOCA” – the Freedom of Choice Act (see previous article, What is the Freedom of Choice Act?), which Obama says will be one of his first acts as President.
If passed, the Freedom of Choice Act will be a nationwide canceling out of any federal and state laws having to do with abortion past the time of “viability” – when a fetus is considered to be able to live outside the womb. State Parental Notification bills and “informed consent” for women considering abortions could be affected; and possibly also the Born Alive Infants Protection Act and the national ban on Partial Birth Abortion which has faced the Supreme Court on several occasions.
FOCA may abolish all state restrictions on government funding for abortions. As a result, it could negate safeguards which are in place against using unwilling taxpayers’ dollars for abortion and morning-after contraceptives, and state laws that protect doctors and nurses from losing their jobs if they refuse to participate in abortions.
Also at stake:
The Democratic push for special provisions for illegal aliens’ rights and the re-enactment of the Fairness Doctrine curtailing freedom of speech on talk radio.
Mellman Group Poll: Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/11/24/poll-martin-only-two-poin_n_146099.html.
Public Policy Polling Survey: http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/PPP_Release_Georgia_11241.pdf.
GPB FEC campaign filing figures: http://www.gpb.org/aggregator/sources/21.
‘Obama heads aides to Georgia‘, Aaron Gould Sheinin, Jim Tharpe Atlanta Journal Constitution, 11/12/08, http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/stories/2008/11/11/obama_georgia.html