High stakes in battle for Senate control

Democrat Kristen Gillibrand, left, is seeking reelection to

Democrat Kristen Gillibrand, left, is seeking reelection to the U.S. Senate against Republican challenger Wendy Long. (Credit: Angela Gaul / AP)

Dan Janison

Melville. N.Y. Tuesday January 26, 2010. Daniel Janison, Dan Janison

Dan Janison has been a reporter at Newsday for 10

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Looking through a New York lens can create a distorted view of national politics.

Here, Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is widely predicted to win re-election against GOP challenger Wendy Long. On our ballots, the presidential and local contests may eclipse all matters of the U.S. Senate. In Washington, however, significant suspense also looms in the fight for its majority.

Although Democrats now hold a 51-47 edge there -- plus two Independents caucusing with the Democrats -- the GOP has more opportunities to pick up seats on Nov. 6. Twenty-one Democratically-held Senate seats are up for election, and only 10 of the Republicans'.

Four scenarios loom if, as widely expected, Republicans retain control of the House of Representatives.

Under one, President Barack Obama wins re-election, and the Senate stays Democratic, extending for two years the current partisan landscape. Under another, Obama wins and the Senate goes Republican -- meaning a two-way partisan power split between Capitol Hill and the White House.

If Mitt Romney wins, and Republicans capture the Senate, one-party domination will return in the new president's favor. But if Romney prevails while Democrats keep the Senate, the question becomes how restive the caucus of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would become. Might they mimic the House's current resistance to Obama?

 

CHENEY ON LI: The last vice president to seek re-election was Dick Cheney, who during his talk before the Long Island Association on Thursday defended the Iraq War and Bush-era interrogation techniques. Seeking re-election eight years ago, the Republican warned that if America "made the wrong choice . . . we will be hit in a way that will be devastating" and worse than on 9/11.

Now he warns the United States is "turning its back" on the Mideast, but also said he supported U.S. military use of drones under Obama, and applauded the Osama bin Laden killing. LIA president Kevin Law asked if he could name other Obama positives. "Probably not two weeks before the election," Cheney said.

For the invocation, the Rev. Calvin Butts, president of the State University of New York College at Old Westbury, read from a 1938 Langston Hughes poem, "Let America Be America Again," which denounced "that ancient endless chain of profit, power, gain." Democratic Sens. Gillibrand and Charles Schumer welcomed Cheney and thanked him for his service.