What if Democrat senators use the Willie Brown plan to keep control of the Senate?

The U.S. Senate currently stands at 50 Republicans and 48 Democrats.  Two senators will be chosen in the Georgia elections on January 6.  If Republicans win one of those two seats, they'll keep control of the Senate.  It's simple arithmetic. Right?

Don't be so sure.  Willie Brown was in a similar situation.  He had been speaker of the California Assembly for fourteen years when the election of 1994 gave Republicans a narrow majority: 40 Republicans, 39 Democrats, and one independent who caucused with the Democrats.  Brown went to one of the Republican assemblymen, Bernie Richter of Chico, and made him an offer he couldn't refuse: "My Democrats will make you speaker of the Assembly, and we'll share budgets and committee assignments with your Republicans."  Richter agreed.

When they learned of the deal, the Republicans raised hell, and Richter withdrew his name.  Willie Brown then went to Plan B.  The 39 Democrats and one (nominal) independent voted to expel Republican assemblyman Richard Mountjoy of Arcadia on the grounds that...well, they didn't need any grounds.  That's the way Democrats play power politics in California, and that's why California today is a one-party state.  Republicans were left with 39 votes, and Brown kept his speakership.

Let's evaluate the current situation in light of Brown's Plan A.  Suppose either Perdue or Loeffler wins his election and gives a 51-49 majority to the Republicans.  Game over for Democrats?  Maybe not.

What if the Democrats approach, say, Republican Senator Mitt Romney — a man I confess to having voted for in 2012, to my everlasting shame — and make him a Willie Brown offer?  Suppose they propose to Romney: "We'll make you Leader of the Senate.  All we ask of you is fairness, because we'll expect you to represent all 100 Senators.  We want 50% of the committee slots and chairmanships, and we want equal treatment when it comes to bringing bills to the floor.  What does that mean?  Well, we'll leave that to you and your honor as a gentleman to decide, senator."

Do you think that the honorable Senator Romney would refuse the opportunity to attain the highest and most consequential position he is ever likely to attain in life?

And do you think the Republican senators would vote as a 51-member bloc to thwart the Democrat agenda?

I don't.

Image: Willie Brown.

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