It looks like Salazar is trying to play both sides of the fence. Claim to be for one thing when you need the votes, then magically change your mind when you get to Washington. Or is he?
Sen. Ken Salazar has backed off the position he took during his campaign last year that Democrats should not filibuster President Bush’s judicial nominees.
Republicans had been counting on Mr. Salazar, a Democrat from Colorado, as a key vote against the filibusters. His defection is a serious blow to the hopes of Senate Republicans who wanted more bipartisan weight behind their “nuclear option” to dislodge filibusters.
“Senator Salazar has made no decision on any judge,” spokesman Cody Wertz told The Washington Times when asked if Mr. Salazar still planned to vote against the filibusters.
However, during his campaign in centrist Colorado, Mr. Salazar said he favored an up-or-down vote in the full Senate for judicial nominees.
Mr. Salazar pledged during an interview with the Rocky Mountain News in Denver that he would not take part in the filibusters of judicial nominees.
“In a pre-election interview with the News editorial board, Sen.-elect Ken Salazar said he favored an up-or-down vote in the full Senate on judicial nominations,” the paper’s editorial board wrote Nov. 8. “We hope he sticks with that position even if his Democratic colleagues-to-be lean on him, as they are almost certain to do.” …
Mr. Salazar was traveling in the Middle East and unavailable for comment, but Mr. Wertz dismissed any suggestion of a reversal.
He said Mr. Salazar has not taken a position on filibustering any of the nominees and said his boss made no such pledge during the interview with the Rocky Mountain News.
Interesting. The Rocky Mountain News runs it as part of an editorial piece, not a news story. It was published in September, so it was clearly from one of those “candidate sitdowns” with the media. Now his staff is denying the quote. I wonder if the RMN taped the session. I assume they did. If so, they could bust him.
It’s already a tenuous claim. If they ran the piece in September, he had over a month to correct the issue. Plus, Salazar left a little bit of a paper trail.
The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to take up stalled judicial nominations in March. Republicans are about five votes short of the 60 needed to break the Democratic filibuster on Myers. They hope Salazar will cross party lines because last year, as Colorado attorney general, he joined 14 other state attorneys general in signing a letter urging senators to confirm Myers.
The Jan. 30, 2004, letter said Myers showed “outstanding legal reasoning” in his work on endangered species, Indian affairs, federal lands and water, timber, and fish and wildlife issues.
But not so fast, Salazar said this week.
Now that he is a U.S. senator, he said he has broader responsibility to examine the nominee’s record. He said he won’t decide how to vote on Myers’ nomination until the confirmation process is completed.
“The perspective I had (at the time of the letter) was one that came from serving as attorney general and working with Bill on Western issues,” Salazar said Tuesday. “I now have a broader responsibility of voting up or down. I have to look at his record.”
Although he hasn’t decided what action to take on Myers, he opposes Republican proposals to do away with Senate filibuster rules and allow all judicial nominations to get up-or-down votes on the floor of the Senate.
In fairness to Salazar, it look like he is trying to be a fairly moderate Senator. The problem is that, Washington is more partisan that he apparently likes. After siding with Republicans on a few issues, the heat got turned up on him dramatically. Both sides lean on their people to keep them in line, they especially beat on newbies. The Dems just have a way of being nastier about it. It will be interesting to see if this guy really can ignore the party bosses. It looks like he’s tilting on this one.
How the media handles him will also be interesting. If a Republican Senator, (cough – John McCain – cough) breaks with the party line, the media holds him up as a paragon of virtue. Salazar clearly doesn’t have the name recognition of McCain, but it will interesting to see if the media dubs him a golden boy. I suspect not. Iconoclasts are only interesting to the media if they are Republican.