The President needs support from the Senate, as we saw this week, to get his bills passed.
And equally on display this week was that despite his attempts to reach out to Republicans, the GOP in the Senate is as partisan today as it ever has been.
With this in mind, the Democrats' 58-41 advantage in the Senate (probably 59-41 once all the appeals are exhausted in Minnesota) is one vote shy of the magical 60 vote mark, which prevents the GOP from launching a filibuster.
You'd think after the way this week has gone that the Obama administration would take better note of the numbers game in the Senate than they have been.
In 2010, as of right now there are likely to be 19 Republican and 17 Senate seats up (including special elections for Senators appointed to seats.) So far, The President has chosen four sitting Senators for his cabinet (including Joe Biden for Vice President.) Two of those, in Delaware and New York are probably going to go Democratic (though Delaware Republican Representative Mike Castle could make things interesting if he runs for the Senate, presumably against Biden's son.) In Colorado, Ken Salazar's departure and replacement by a little known Denver schools superintendent certainly puts the seat in play, a seat which Salazar would have held easily. On the other hand let the President appoint who he wants, and he essentially undid the Colorado situation this week when he announced that New Hampshire Republican Judd Gregg would be appointed to be the next Commerce Secretary (after Bill Richardson had to withdraw from contention for that post.) Gregg only agreed to go after a deal was struck with the state's governor for his chief of staff to be named as his replacement, which won't change the present partisan balance of the Senate; but she almost certainly won't run in 2010 and while Gregg would probably have held the seat in increasingly blue New Hampshire it looks at least as ripe for Democrats as Colorado may or may not be for Republicans.
Obviously in being elected President, Obama gave up his Senate seat in Illinois. That seat would almost certainly have gone Democratic, pre-Blago scandal, but now it's anyone's guess.
But now let's go beyond current Senators. In selecting Janet Napolitano as Homeland Security Chief, Obama did his election opponent, John McCain a huge favor. A poll out last year showed Napolitano beating McCain in a 2010 head to head matchup. But with her out of the equation here in Arizona I am not sure if we have another Democrat who could do as well versus McCain (Terry Goddard will almost certainly run for Governor.) We saw this week that minus any threat from Napolitano McCain was certainly anything but bipartisan. So Obama may well have handed the GOP a seat (or at least prevented a Democratic takeover next year) with his pick.
Again, he can pick who he wants and I'm sure that Janet will do an excellent job at Homeland Security (or even at the Supreme Court, which she is rumored to also be on the short list for.)
So now after the withdrawl of Tom Daschle, we see that Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius is rumored to be the front runner for Health and Human Services. Like Napolitano, she has been the popular Democratic Governor of a Republican state. One reason why Senator Sam Brownback is retiring is that he supposedly expected a challenge from Sebelius, one which he might well lose. With him gone, she has to be considered the front runner for the seat.
Except that once again, Obama is going to the Senate 'farm system' to call up a promising prospect for his cabinet.
Like I've said three times here, he has the right to pick who he wants to pick. But this continuing stream of Senators and likely Senate candidates is going to cost him, later if not sooner. If a loss in Colorado, Arizona and/or Kansas ends up costing Democrats the 60 vote margin in 2010 then Obama may have to blame himself if he has trouble getting legislation passed as he is running for re-election.