Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 28, 2009

BUNNING THREATENS TO BOLT.... Sen. Jim Bunning (R) of Kentucky hasn't been getting along with his party lately. Convinced that his erratic behavior, bizarre comments, poor fundraising, and weak poll numbers all but guarantee his defeat next year, the Republican Party has been pushing Bunning to retire, and quietly reaching out to other potential GOP candidates.

Bunning has responded with varying degrees of outrage. He's no longer talking to most of his Republican colleagues. He announced this week that he no longer trusts NSRC Chairman John Cornyn. On Tuesday, Bunning talked openly about suing the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

This, however, would represent a whole new level of spite.

Already in conflict with his party's leaders, Sen. Jim Bunning has reportedly said privately that if he is hindered in raising money for his re-election campaign he is ready with a response that would be politically devastating for Senate Republicans: his resignation.

The Kentucky Republican suggested that possible scenario at a campaign fundraiser for him on Capitol Hill earlier this week, according to three sources who asked not to be identified because of the politically sensitive nature of Bunning's remarks.

The implication, they said, was that Bunning would allow Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, to appoint his replacement -- a move that could give Democrats the 60 votes they need to block Republican filibusters in the Senate.

"I would get the last laugh. Don't forget Kentucky has a Democrat governor," one of the sources quoted Bunning as saying.

"The only logical extension of that comment is, '(Make me mad) … enough and I'll resign, and then you've got 60 Democrats,' " said another source who was present at the event.

The Courier-Journal found three sources who corroborated the story, and the Politico also confirmed Bunning's comments. (For what it's worth, yesterday, Bunning denied having made the remarks.)

In the big picture, it's in Bunning's interest for people to believe he really might resign if he deems the support he receives from the party insufficient. He's giving himself quite a bit of leverage -- give me what I want or I'll walk and give the Dems #60. It would destroy his career in Republican politics, but if he's retiring anyway, that may not matter.

It seems like a far-fetched scenario, but given what we've seen from Bunning in recent years, he may be just crazy enough to try it.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (22)

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Comments

Page One Kentucky had the story hours before the C-J.

Posted by: Blue Girl on February 28, 2009 at 7:56 AM | PERMALINK

Aw shucks - all Bunning needs is an endorsement by Rush Limbaugh ("The leader of the Republican Party" - you be da man, Rush!) and he's got it in the bag whether the pussy Republican establishment likes it or not! But hey, it would be cool if he follows through and quits - but we still won't have 60 Senators until months of ligitation over Franken are settled, right? (Must we put up with that?)

I wonder if the RNC, following up on their "outreach" efforts as with Steele and Jindal, will look for a jivin' replacement to build up the new "Refunklican" Party.

Posted by: Neil B ☺ on February 28, 2009 at 8:04 AM | PERMALINK

can we do a national referendum and bestow official recognition on kentucky as the "clown car state"? long history there... other nominees, i know, ymmv...

Posted by: neill on February 28, 2009 at 8:04 AM | PERMALINK

And another Republican decides to go "beyond principles". Love it. Why am I guessing the CPACer trolls will leave this one alone.

Posted by: Danp on February 28, 2009 at 8:05 AM | PERMALINK

Repubs are so far out of power that they're reduced to blackmailing each other.

Posted by: JoeW on February 28, 2009 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

This is bizarre, even for Bunning. Strangely though, it might be the sanest thing he's done in a long time. This kind of strategy only works if people think you're crazy enough to do it. But nobody would ever mistake Bunning for a sane person. It could work.

Posted by: fostert on February 28, 2009 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

The money raising power of senate incumbency makes being a U.S. Senator virtually a life-time position. With few exceptions, multiple term senators are wholly owned subsidiaries of corporate amerika.

I have never been a proponent of term limits, but that or a manatory retirement age are needed.

Q&A

Q: What is the purpose of local & state governments?

A: To prove to the wealthy and corporate interests that, before they promote them to national politics, politicians will stay bought.

Posted by: SadOldVet on February 28, 2009 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, Sen. Cornyn, are you going to let that pussy Bunning talk to you like that? Show the man that true Republicans have balls! Tell him to go f*ck himself (a phrase made popular by your most recent Vice-President, of sainted GOPmemory)!

Are you gonna let yourself get beaten by some drunken redneck, Senator? Show him whose is bigger!

Posted by: jprichva on February 28, 2009 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, Sen. Bunning, are ya gonna let some big-mouthed, silver-haired snake oil salesman like Cornyn scare ya? Tell him to go fry and armadillo! Stand on your principles! Be a man! Tell him it's your way or you jump ship and let the damn Dimmicrats take your seat!

Don't take no crap from Texass!

Posted by: jprichva on February 28, 2009 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

This is so tasty I can hardly believe it. Usually I have to pay money to Netflix, iTunes, Steppenwolf, the Goodman, the CSO, etc. to get this level of absorbing entertainment.

Posted by: shortstop on February 28, 2009 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

This my friends is the political equivalent of a 95mph fastball thrown at one's head.

What the RNC forgot was that Bunning the Major League Pitcher was mean enough to throw at and sometimes hit someone who pissed him off or show boated or got a cheap hit off him.

Posted by: Former Dan on February 28, 2009 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

Bunning is crazier than a shithouse rat. But, I would rather see him stay in office and further solidify the Republican Party's reputation as the refuge for the criminally insane.

Posted by: Sam Simple on February 28, 2009 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

I would rather see him stay in office and further solidify the Republican Party's reputation as the refuge for the criminally insane. - Sam Simple

Oh, like they don't have a deep enough bench to win that championship.

Posted by: Danp on February 28, 2009 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Hmmm. Bunning must be taking career advice from Holy Joe Lieberman, founder of The Blackmail Party.

Posted by: dalloway on February 28, 2009 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

Phillies fans had few enough reasons to cheer the team in the '60s...but to have one of them turn out to be this much of an embarrassment...

That said, another World Series win or two would go a long way toward helping us forget the pain.

Posted by: Zak44 on February 28, 2009 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

Once a pitcher, always a pitcher. He knows how to use the brushback, that's all. No big deal.

Posted by: Bob M on February 28, 2009 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

The money raising power of senate incumbency makes being a U.S. Senator virtually a life-time position.

Tell that to Senators Stevens, Sununu, Dole, Smith, Talent, Burns, DeWine, Santorum, Chafee, and Allen, who all lost re-election bids in the last two cycles.

Posted by: John on February 28, 2009 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

The past few days, as I've been thinking of the elected Republicans across our great land, images of nicely dressed,($1000 suit), cannibals and headhunters have flooded my mind! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on February 28, 2009 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

John - In your reply to my post, you are FOS.

Stevens barely lost - even after being convicted.
Chaffee was a RINO in a dumbocrap state.
The bulk of the rest that you listed were 1 term senators!

If you will clean the crap out of your eyes, you will note the references that I made to 'virtually' and 'multiterm senators'.

My position stands in relationship to 'most' senators and especially to 'virtually' all multiterm senators.

My entire list of senators that should not be replaced is:

Boxer / Cantwell / Durbin / Feingold / Kolbuchar / McCaskill / Mikluski / Murray / Sanders / Webb

Some of these may not deserve to be on this list & maybe a few others should, but I see little redeeming value in most of the others.

Posted by: SadOldVet on February 28, 2009 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Glad to see Senator Wyden remain at his post. Had he accepted a nomination, Smith may have snuck back into office.

However, looks as though Bunning has been working on knuckle balls. As confusing, as is his mind.

Posted by: berttheclock on February 28, 2009 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Heh - gives a whole new meaning to the phrase: Going Nuclear.

Pass the popcorn!!

Posted by: Markozilla on February 28, 2009 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

SadOldVet-
What is the reason(s) to exclude Brown? Just curious, I don't know alot about him.

Posted by: Darcy on February 28, 2009 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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