cross posted at OpenLeft.com
Chris's current front-page blog points out that we may need 59 seats to get the Employee Free Choice Act passed. I shouldn't need to convince anyone about the importance of this bill for unions, working families, and the Democratic Party. The question is, can we get to 59?
Right now it looks tough. A run-off in Georgia doesn't necessarily favor us, as a low-turnout election probably favors Republican white voters compared to Democratic black and poor voters. Minnesota is a toss right now. Alaska is a joke.
So how can we get to 59?
I'm not the one who came up with this idea, but it's a great one and I think we need to start talking it up.
Should Barack Obama win, he is expected to reach across the aisle for at least one cabinet appointment. The popular, moderate Snowe would be a credible pick for Transportation or Commerce secretary, or Ambassador to the United Nations, and her nomination would surely not offend congressional Democrats.
The 61-year-old Snowe has been in Congress since her election to the House in 1978, and there is already speculation that she won't seek re-election when her third term ends in 2012. A cabinet post in an Obama administration might be an attractive option for her, as it was for her political mentor, William Cohen, who became Bill Clinton's Secretary of Defense after eighteen years as a Republican Senator from Maine.
Most of us respect Olympia Snowe in some way. It's true that she's been a Republican enabler in the Senate. On the issues, however, she's a "Rockefeller Republican" (for you New Yorkers). Her major conservative aspects are on issues of free speech/government regulation (e.g. flag burning) and foreign policy. Otherwise, Snowe is more acceptable to progressives on civil rights, fair trade, choice, and the environment than almost any Republican around.
Let there be no doubt that Snowe is the perfect Republican for Obama to pick for so many reasons. She's a true moderate and helps further Obama's "bi-partisan" image without giving into Republican wingnuttery. He'd be expanding our Democratic majority by plucking a blue state Republican with a Democratic governor. This is a win-win for Obama. Let there be no doubt that labor would be in indefinite gratitude to President Obama on this. It would be solely by his hand that the Employee Free Choice Act gets through the Senate.
Here's the question; what position could we offer Senator Snowe?