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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Sixtieth Senator

The big political news yesterday was a unanimous decision of the Minnesota Supreme Court that Al Franken had indeed won a U.S. Senate seat last year (unsurprising), followed by Norm Coleman’s concession (more surprising, since many expected him to pursue a federal court challenge to delay Franken’s seating).
So Democrats now hold 60 seats in the U.S. Senate. As Ezra Klein points out today, neither party has held that many Senate seats since 1975, after the Watergate Landslide of 1974.
Most Democrats by now have figured out that 60 isn’t quite the magic number it is sometimes described as being in the Senate. Yes, it theoretically makes it possible to stop or even preempt filibusters and control the floor, but only with unanimity (or near-unanimity), which is hard to come by. But it will have a certain psychological impact, particularly going into an election cycle where Republican will be hard pressed to maintain their own numbers in the Senate.
Let’s hope, at least, that Al Franken really enjoys being a Senator. He certainly earned his seat.

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