Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cabinet Impacts

There's been tons of discussion about the effect that Barack Obama's appointments will have on offices like Hillary Clinton's Senate seat and the Governorships of New Mexico and Arizona but little about what the potential impact of some of Bev Perdue's possible selections of current elected officials to her cabinet might have.

Four legislators prominently named on Under the Dome as possible selections have been Senators David Hoyle and Clark Jenkins and House members Alma Adams and Bill Owens.

The place where it's clearest there would not be a huge change is Adams' slot. More than likely she would be replaced by another African American in the minority/majority district and the only threat to that person would possibly be in the 2010 primary. No chance of a party shift.

There's no real possibility of Jenkins' Senate seat switching parties either, but it does seem quite possible that a black Senator would be appointed in this district where a majority of Democratic primary voters are African American. Jenkins has done a remarkable job of holding onto the seat through multiple primary challenges but it seems pretty inevitable that when he vacates the seat a minority will take his place.

Owens' House district is prototypical eastern North Carolina. It went for George W. Bush by a good margin in 2004 and also went narrowly for Richard Burr. But it voted Democratic for the state offices, albeit in some cases by a close margin. This is the kind of district that could be competitive if it was truly an open seat, but if Owens goes into the cabinet and a replacement gets two years to establish his or herself with the district's voters the seat would certainly be favored to remain in Democratic hands moving forward.

David Hoyle's seat is a whole different story from the other three. It is deeply Republican and that Hoyle has been able to hold onto it for so long is almost amazing. There are two ways of looking at the impact his leaving the Senate could have. The most obvious way is that he's been uniquely equipped to win that seat as a Democrat and if he leaves you may as well turn the seat over to the GOP. The other way you could look at it is that Hoyle is going to retire some day, and whatever small chance the Democrats might have of holding onto the seat would be enhanced if someone new was able to move into the seat and then be able to run in two years as an incumbent. It would still be a tough road, but perhaps more doable than if it was just a complete open seat.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

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