Today Ed Markey will probably get elected to complete the term of John Kerry. I have nothing against Ed Markey but he is indicative of a problem among the Democrats. Massachusetts is an extremely Democratic state. The party has a long list of young, up and coming talent they could have tapped to take the seat.
Instead the party rallied around a guy who has been in Congress since the 1970’s. Markey is 66 years old. How long is he really going to stay in the Senate, where he will not be a committee chair and will not have very much impact (especially compared to the seniority he built up in the House of Representatives)?
But the Democrats do this all the time.
Another example, Paul Sarbanes retires and the party rallies around Ben Cardin in Maryland. Again another very Democratic state where they could get a young fresh face and instead they support someone who has been in Congress for decades and is now approaching 70.
In both cases this is a pay off for a career of loyal service, like a gold watch or a lifetime achievement award.
The problem is that U.S. Senate seats are not a prize that should be a awarded for hanging around long enough. They are an opportunity to set and control public policy. Look at the impact like Ted Kennedy and Jesse Helms had. Why? They stayed around a long time and used their power to set policy they and their supporters wanted.
Now, let’s compare the Democrats to how the GOP in South Carolina handled replacing Jim DeMint. They picked Tim Scott, who was only in his second Congressional term and isn’t even 50. Why is this important? Scott is on the upswing of his career. He can spend the next 15 years building up seniority in the Senate, going around the country giving speeches like the one below that rev up the base and put a new voice on conservative ideas:
Scott is a pick for the future, knowing that what is needed are new faces to excite people and also be around long enough to build up the seniority needed to have a big impact on public policy in the Senate. Ares Ed Markey or Ben Cardin going to excite anyone or have much of an impact in the Senate? No.
I am very critical of the GOP but when they get something right politically you gotta give them their due.