There’s a lot of talk about whether Joe Lieberman or Bernie Sanders will switch from independent to one of the other parties. Sanders could turn Democrat; Lieberman could go either way, though he has repeatedly said he’ll caucus with the Democrats.
But what about moderate Republicans? They were massacred on election night because of their association with the Grand Olde Party. Might they consider switching to friendlier shores?
After the 1994 takeover by Republicans, two Senate Democrats jumped ship: Ben Nighthorse Campbell and Richard Shelby. So there’s a precedent for it.
And Lincoln Chafee is openly talking about it. He’s irrelevant until he gets elected again, but some of his comments are illuminating.
When asked whether he felt that his loss may have helped the country by switching control of power in Congress, he replied: “To be honest, yes.”
“The people have spoken all across America. They want the Democrats and Republicans to work together,” Chafee added. “I think the president now is going to have to talk to the Democrats. I think that’s going to be good for America.”
A lifelong Republican who succeeded his father, the late John Chafee, in the U.S. Senate, Chafee said he waged a lonely campaign to try to bring the party to the middle. He described attending weekly Thursday lunches with fellow Republican senators and standing up to argue his point of view, often alone.
“There were times walking into my caucus room where it wasn’t fun,” he said.
Chafee said he stuck with the party in large part because it allowed him to bring federal dollars home to Rhode Island.
So: Any bets on who among the Republicans might switch?
My money is on the two Maine senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. Both moderates, both from heavily Democratic states.
Any other contenders?