Elephant Ears

This blog is dedicated to the political happenings in the Valley and Southwest Virginia. As the the name implies, this blog will have posts based on what is heard by this elephant's (GOPer's) ears. It is also a great treat to get while at the county fair or a carnival.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

What Will Happen in the Senate?

With the retirement of 3 top GOP Senators, the Senate will look much different next year. There are 3 committee chairmanships up for grabs and also 3 seats on Senate Finance.

Obviously there is at least a decent chance of the dems taking control, but for the purposes of this analysis we will assume the GOP keeps control of the Senate (b/c if the dems take control, all the chairmanships will change).

Currently, 11 of the top 12 GOP Senators in senority are committee chairmen (Steve Newman being the lone Senator without one). The next 3 in line on the senority list would be Steve Newman, John Watkins, and Nick Rerras/Frank Ruff. We will assume these 3 will get chairmanships; but the next question is how will the chairmanships change?

Chichester will be vacating Finance, which will likely go to Wampler; the new Pro Tempe. That would then open up Wampler's Commerce & Labor cmte. Also up for grabs is Hawkins' Agriculture cmte and Potts' Education & Health.
The simple way to do this would be Frank Ruff for Ag, Newman for C&L and Watkins for Education & Health. Even so, you could see someone like Hanger get Ag, which would then open up Rehabilition & Social Services. As you can see, there is potential for a huge turnover here.

Another contengency is that Hanger and/or Stosch get knocked off in the primaries. Since their successors would be freshman, that would open up 2 more chairmanships; likely for Rerras/Ruff and Frank Wagner/Harry Blevins.
Related to this, who will get majority leader if Stosch is knocked off? My guess would be Stolle or Norment, but time will tell.

The last contengency is what will happen to the "Trust", especially if the RSVP group gains control of the caucus. Currently the caucus has 23 members, which would require 12 "conservatives" to gain the majority of the caucus.
Currently there are 5 members of RSVP, plus McDougle, Rerras and Wagner that most would consider "conservatives". The Potts seat will be replaced with a conservative in either Tate or Holtzman-Vogel. It also appears Robert Hurt will win Hawkins' seat (although Hurt did vote for the tax increase in 2004). If Van Hoy or another Stafford conservative wins in the 28th that would give the conservatives 11. Their magic 12th seat would come if either Bob Fitzsimmons knocks off Sen. Chuck Colgan or if Stall, Smith, Sayre or Blackburn can win their primary. This of course is also predicated on all the conservative members being re-elected.

What would happen next is anyone's guess. Most certainly one of this group would be named majority leader. Wampler would still likely be Pro Tempe b/c the entire Senate votes on that. The whole Senate also votes for committee chairmanships. The big question here is how this would all play out. Since the RSVP group would still have a grave minority of the Senate, you could potentially see the remnants of the "Trust" ally with the dems to gain all the committee chairmanships (basically stripping Martin of P&E and barring Rerras, Wagner or Newman from getting one).

Conversely, will Stolle/Norment/et al join the RSVP crowd and try to hold their status in the Senate? Would RSVP let them? Would a deal be struck where a bigger number of RSVPers get chairmanships in return for keeping some of the Trust members in theirs?

I have no hard evidence to predict any of this; but I think there could be one hellacious battle if the conservatives manage to gain control of the GOP Senate caucus.

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