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Iraq War Policy: How Will Coleman Vote?

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Minnesota Republican Senator Norm Coleman's position on Iraq policy could be crucial not only to the fate of Democratic-sponsored proposals in the Senate to set a firm timeline for troop withdrawal, but also in determining how much of a favorite he is to win reelection in 2008.

Coleman has been one of the more critical GOP voices in the Senate on Bush's Iraq War strategy, but mostly within the past half year; he has also not yet joined the ranks of Gordon Smith (R-OR) or Chuck Hagel (R-NE) who have called for a radical change to Bush's policy.

Two days ago Coleman released a statement hinting that he may indeed defect from the GOP leadership in the near future:

"Congress mandated a report from the President by July 15th on the course of the Iraq War and the Iraqi government's progress in meeting specific benchmarks and I intend to review it carefully. While understanding the urgent need to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq, I remain deeply concerned about the President's strategy and for American troops caught in sectarian violence. Looking to the future, I believe we need a mission in Iraq that puts Iraqis in the forefront and focuses U.S. military involvement in a supportive role. To that end, I will continue to work with a bipartisan group of my colleagues as we consider Iraq policy this week in the Senate."

Coleman has previously departed from Republican leadership on the Iraq war issue. In January 2007, Coleman opposed the President's troop surge in Iraq: "I disagree with the President's decision to provide a troop surge in Baghdad. My concern about a troop surge is compounded by the impact it will have on Minnesota National Guard troops in Iraq and their families here at home. I am extremely disappointed by the news that our National Guard soldiers in Iraq will have their tour of duty extended."

In February 2007 Coleman was one of two Republicans who attempted to bust a filibuster and bring a nonbinding resolution on the Iraq war to a full debate on the floor of the U.S. Senate. The resolution would have stated the Senate's disagreement with President Bush's plan to increase the troop level in Iraq by 21,500.

However, in mid-March 2007, Coleman opposed the Democratic-led joint resolution calling for phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq within 4 months and a goal of complete redeployment by the end of March 2008.

As the Iraq war becomes more and more unpopular with Americans each month, pressures on Republican Senators—especially in battleground states like Minnesota—will mount, particularly so for those, like Coleman, who is up for reelection next year. Coleman's support of a troop withdrawl deadline, however, is crucial for the Democrats to reach the 60-vote majority they need to prevent a Republican filibuster.

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Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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