60 Votes No Quick Fix for Senate Dems

Absences, diverse opinions could prove stumbling blocks
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jul 2, 2009 9:52 AM CDT
Sen.-elect Al Franken, D-Minn., shakes hands with supporters during a rally at the mall of the Minnesota State Capitol in St Paul, Minn., Wednesday, July 1, 2009.   (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)
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(Newser) – With the Minnesota election finally settled, Senate Democrats have 60 potential votes now—but that won’t guarantee smooth sailing, the New York Times reports. Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd may often be out sick, and a range of viewpoints means the caucus won’t likely “walk in lockstep,” says one. “We have 60 votes on paper,” says majority leader Harry Reid. “But we cannot bulldoze anybody.”

A significant portion of Democrats represent states that preferred John McCain last fall. “I am not about to surrender any of my votes on the basis that there are now 60 members of my caucus,” one such senator, Ben Nelson, tells the Daily Beast. And Al Franken himself says he’s “not going to Washington to be the 60th Democratic senator. I'm going to Washington to be the second senator from Minnesota.”