Thursday, March 28, 2013

Senator Post-partisan?

While nearly all the other hot US Senate races were turning Blue last November, one managed to stay Red... "Kinda sorta". Senator Dean Heller (R-Office Space) only mustered 46% in his campaign for a full Senate term. However, that turned out to be just enough to eke out a narrow win despite President Obama's victory at the top of the ballot.

Yet since then, Heller has been changing his tune rather dramatically... And Heller himself recently spoke to Politico (via Las Vegas Sun) about it.

[... H]is aggressive repositioning is sometimes awkward. Heller now wants to be known as one of the few Republican “pragmatists” — he eschews the word “moderate” — and goes to great lengths to tout Democrats with whom he is co-sponsoring legislation.

To back up his bipartisan bona fides, Heller was the only Republican senator among the 50 members of Congress to join No Labels, a group trying to facilitate cross-aisle dialogue.

“Maybe we’re a unique brand,” said Heller, seated beneath an enormous mounted head of an elk he shot in 1996, which he said is among the largest ever felled in his state. “Myself, Susan Collins (of Maine) and Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, we’re the three (Republicans) who are most likely to reach over the aisle and work with someone else. If you talk to Jay Rockefeller, if you talk to Jon Tester, if you talk to Joe Manchin, Martin Heinrich — I have good working relationships with all of them.

Before November 2012, Heller voted as a standard "tea party" approved Republican. Yet since last November, he's at least been eschewing that image and pursuing a more "post-partisan" one. He's now talking a good game on gun safety, comprehensive immigration reform, and even the federal budget (to a certain extent). So Senator Heller has a new attitude. Does he also have a new voting record?

Not completely. After all, he still voted to end the Affordable Care Act earlier this month. He still refuses to support marriage equality. And we've yet to get a full picture of just how willing Senator Heller is to cooperate with President Obama.

So what can we expect from Dean Heller going forward? That's a good question. I guess the book's still open. But hey, he will have opportunities to match his moderate rhetoric with actual votes very soon. Gun safety legislation will soon reach the Senate floor. So will comprehensive immigration reform. And LGBTQ equality will likely remain at the forefront as the US Supreme Court considers its final Prop 8 & DOMA decisions.

Can the rhetoric match up with reality? That's for Senator Heller to decide.

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