Thursday, October 1, 2009

How do nice guys finish?

One more comment about the potential leadership contest among Senate Democrats, that I discussed in this post. Glenn Thrush, describing in Politico a possible race between Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer, quotes Jennifer Duffy of Cook Political Report as saying that "people really like Durbin", in contrast to the less affable Schumer.

But does that make Durbin more electable?

I'm reminded of the campaign for Democratic leader that followed then-Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield's retirement from the Senate in 1976. The candidates were Robert Byrd and Hubert Humphrey. It was said that Humphrey's candidacy collapsed when fellow senators realized that if they voted for Humphrey, and Byrd won, Byrd would retaliate against them, but if the situation were reversed, Humphrey would not retaliate. Byrd won, although it was a somewhat moot point, in that Humphrey died a year later.

According to that point of view, Humphrey was too nice a guy. Would the same attribute weaken Durbin against Schumer?

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