Making Reid Do It: The Best Way to Prevent Dem Defections and Pass EFCA

Make Harry Reid choose between getting every Democrat on board, or ending his political career.

The Huffington Post reports that there is growing concern in organized labor that a faction of Democratic senators will vote against the Employee Free Choice Act, thus killing it. Unions will (and should) work hard on a state-by-state basis to keep Democratic lawmakers on board (and I promise to do my part to get my own wavering Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet on board), but it seems to me there's a much easier way to enforce unity: Make Harry Reid choose between getting every Democrat on board, or ending his political career.

This is not a far-fetched idea. In fact, the inevitable whining, screaming and moaning from Establishment Democrats aside, it would be relatively simple to pull off, and Reid - a smart politician - would know that labor could pull it off in a state like his.

Nevada is a conservative-leaning state, but is also both relatively cheap for political advertising/campaigns, and has an extremely strong labor movement, with roughly 14 percent of its workforce organized. Reid is running for reelection in 2010 in a state that tends to have extremely close elections. The labor movement, therefore, could make a very simple proposal to the Senate Majority Leader: Reid can either A) Schedule the votes for EFCA, during the crucial cloture vote to stop a filibuster get every Democratic senator to vote for cloture, and then get 51 Democrats to vote for it on final passage or B) Not do A, and therefore end his political career knowing that organized labor will put $2 or $3 million into an independent third-party progressive candidate against him in the general election.

That relatively modest (by national political standards) amount of money (which labor could easily muster and which could go a fairly long way in a state like Nevada) combined with the infrastructure of a powerful Nevada labor movement would do two things: 1) Prompt candidacies from top-tier Republican candidates who would otherwise take a pass on the run but who know the independent candidacy would weaken Reid and 2) very likely peel away anywhere from 5 to 15 percent from Reid in his reelection run, all but guaranteeing his defeat to said Republican and the end of his political career.

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