The Rachel Maddow Show | January 30, 2013
>>> adam at mother jones magazine had the perfect headline this afternoon to encapsulate today's good news/bad news in the united states senate . with the announcement that the appointee to fill the john kerry senate see would be a man named mo cowan. that means, hurrah, as you see here, that the u.s. senate will now have more black members than ever in its history, which is great news, right? and here is the rest of the headline. the new record number of black members in the united states senate is two. a total of two. out of 100. that's the record. we've hit the record. it is a remarkably low number to be a record. still, interestingly, this appointment to the u.s. senate today is actually the second one that governor deval patrick of massachusetts has made as massachusetts governor when senator ted kennedy died in office, the governor made a similar choice for the appointment to that seat when he chose, also like mo cowan, a trusted former staffer who had no designs on running for the seat himself. and if you think about that, it's actually a pretty respectful way to handle the profoundly anti- democratic process of one person just getting to designate a person to be a u.s. senator because there is a vacancy. we don't generally do that for the house, right? but we do that for the senate , which is a kind of grossly undemocratic thing about the u.s. senate . and when a governor is given this grossly undemocratic power to be the individual designator of who gets to hold a seat in the u.s. senate , how that governor chooses to use that power says a lot about that governor in terms of his or her ethics. they can, as deval patrick did both times, they can appoint a real place holder to neutrally care-take the seat until an election can be held, an election that is not going to be affected by whoever this neutral place holder is. that's how deval patrick has now done this twice. or, alternatively, a governor can choose someone to appoint to the u.s. senate who actually intends to run to keep the spot. thereby just granting that person the power and advantage of incumbency for the u.s. senate seat for any future race . and that's what south carolina governor nikki haley did when she got the profound di undemocratic power to appoint someone to a senate seat in her state. she picked congressman tim scott , who intends to run to keep that seat. run governor taking maximum advantage of her chance to put her individual thumb on the scale of democracy, and one governor refusing to do that. staying neutral before the will of the voters. this kind of thing is a test of political character, i've always thought. just ask rod blagojevich when he gets out of prison. in any case, the election to pick a full-time nonplace holder replacement for john kerry in the senate now has a date. it will be on june 25th in massachusetts . but massachusetts may find itself voting on that seat before then. and that's because we're told to expect that tomorrow conservative democratic congressman steven lynch , who you see on the right side of the screen there, who voted against obama care and who is anti-abortion, steven lynch is going to announce that he too is going to run for the seat as a democratic against the already claired progressive candidate congressman ed markey . if he does run against ed markey , there does have to be a primary. the primary will take place on april 30th . interesting question, right? would a primary for that seat help the democrats' chances of sending another democrat to serve alongside elizabeth warren in the senate , or would it hurt the chances? and who would have a better chance at winning, ed markey or steven lynch ? on the republican sid of things, there is still no word as to whether or not this guy on the right here intends to run again after elizabeth warren beat him by eight points back in november. still no word from scott brown other than -- which scott brown tweeted late at night on saturday in the midst of a spring of misspelled and combative late night tweets where he picked late night fights on twitter, he then deleted the late-night tweets and refused to talk about them. he has avoided all comments on what is going on there. scott brown has finally become the most popular thing about him online. joining us now is steve kornacki, senior writer for salon. it is great to see you.
>> great to be here.
>> total speculation. do you think scott brown 's late-night tweets that sort of seem like drunk tweets, but which don't know and then deleting them and refutesing to comment about it, do you think it's less likely he is going to declare for the seat if he was legitimately conflicted about it?
>> i think all indications are that he is going to go. it's not necessarily the smartest political decision. i think the smartest political decision is 2014 governor's race in massachusetts for a whole host of reasons. but behind the scenes you start talking to republicans of massachusetts , they say that he and people around him are taking the steps to get into this thing, probably next week.
>> except on saturday night.
>> something very different.
>> unless that was a code that he was sending out somehow.
>> that's possible. or maybe some kings and queens hacked his account.
>> he does hang out with the royalty, right.
>> or his shih tzu got in there. you never know. people think of massachusetts as the bluest of blue states . you have been writing at salon that democrats might have a hard time holding on to john kerry 's seat. why do you think that is?
>> it depends on whether brown runs. if he doesn't run, then the republicans are stuck in second tier. the best they can do is bill weld , who recently moved back to the state. everybody has sort of forgotten who he is. they would probably lose that race by 15 points. if brown runs, he is still very personally popular, even though he lost last fall. so the thinking for republicans would be last fall was the high watermark for core democratic turnout, the presidential election year, democrats were really motived to turn out. and frankly, elizabeth warren ended up motiving a lot of democratic voters too. so in that climate, he lost by eight points, but he walked away with a personal favorable rating still well over 50%, still makes him basically the most popular politician in the state. so if you can have a lower turnout on a special election some time this summer, june 25th , and you run a democrat that doesn't quite inspire people the way elizabeth warren does, then 51, 52, 53% very possible for him.
>> that said, hugely, hugely risky, which is why i think the boston herald and other media outlets are advising against it. yeah, if he wins, he gets go back to the senate . he doesn't even probably need to rerent a new apartment. great. but if he loses, he is dead meat forever. if you lose that seat twice, you're kind of done. forget the governor.
>> one is the has-been syndrome. lose two races in a row, and yeah, that's it. you're a has-been. but the second is the problem that bedevilled him the last few years starts all over again. he won the special election in january 2010 and spent the next two years having to be a republican senator having to represent a very blue state . an he would be up in 2014 . this is just to fill the final basically year and a half of john kerry 's seat. so it would be a year and a half of casting votes that are going to put him in a very dangerous position for 2014 .
>> and even if he survived both of those, he would be vulnerable again for the same reason, more vulnerable again for the same reason.
>> 2020 , you get the turnout issue. massachusetts , bill weld , paul cellucci , mitt romney , even a different version of mitt romney , they will elect republican governors. scott brown , 2010 in that special election is the only time since ed brook in 1972 that massachusetts has elected a republican to the senate . and not since 1994 in the gingrich landslide when two slipped in have massachusetts elected a republican to federal office of any kind.
>> and there is a reason why. and the state is getting more blue, not less blue over time .
>> let me ask you about a broader picture. the miami herald reported on an fbi raid on the office of a listening-time supporter of new jersey democratic senator bob menendez . the senator is denying any wrongdoing. but is that rattling new jersey politics enough? is there enough noise around senator bob menendez that potentially his seat is worth thinking about on either side?
>> there is a lot of concern, yes, among democrats there is a lot of confusion about what exactly has happened here. it's worth pointing out that menendez has sort of been down this road before. it did not involve prostitution or anything salacious like that. but when he was first running for his seat, it leaked from the u.s. attorney 's office, that would be u.s. attorney chris christie , it leaked that menendez was under federal investigation, and records had been subpoenaed from his nonprofit, supposedly. no charges ever emerged from that. finally five years later, a different u.s. attorney cleared bob menendez . so he has been down this road before that said, if there is something to this, if there is something that forces him to resign, we'll find out over the next few months, this is an appointment that chris christie , a republican governor would make there is all different kind of ways he could handle a election. it could potentially take place on general election day 2013 when chris christie currently with an approval rate of 74% will also been to the ballots. circumstances where a republican candidate could be helped. if you call around new jersey who would they run if there was a special election , their dream candidate, the name you hear is woody johnson . that's the owner of the new york jets and one of mitt romney 's big backers. i don't know if he is interested at all, but he would bring a lot of money to the race. and if you're on the ballot with christie and you start to put these things together, that's a tough situation for democrats.
>> we are having such a weirder perspective on what is going on in the senate right now than we thought we would be even a couple of weeks ago.
>> tom harkin 's seat and saxby chambliss 's seat coming up, john kerry 's seat coming up and the place holder and the primary and the stuff around bob menendez . it's fascinating.
>> fun stuff.
>> steve kornacki host of the cycle, a man who should not be held accountable for me fix excavating on scott brown 's seats, including the --