The Donald Trump transition team interviewed two Senate Democrats to fill cabinet positions, a strategy that could give Republicans a critical opportunity to pass legislation and expand their majority in the Senate.
Senate Democrats have been scrambling to prevent two of their members from taking a post in the Trump administration, trying to prevent any defection that could bolster Republicans’ control of the chamber. They recently launched a “full court press” to retain Sens. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, and Heidi Heitkamp, of North Dakota, after each met with Republican President-elect Donald Trump, one senior Senate Democrat told Fox News.
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Manchin now appears less likely to bolt — after saying he wants to remain in the Senate and being passed over for Energy secretary — which puts the focus squarely on Heitkamp. The first-term lawmaker, who faces reelection in 2018 in a conservative state, still appears in the running for the Agriculture secretary post. A Trump transition team source told Fox News the president-elect “really wants her” for the job.
Either departure would pose short- and long-term challenges for Senate Democrats. If Heitkamp left, her seat could remain empty for months, meaning Democrats would have one less vote to stop any of Trump’s first-100-day initiatives, which could including getting a Supreme Court nominee confirmed in the Senate or passing a tax overhaul.
… In the longer-term, Senate Republicans would have a solid chance of winning Heitkamp’s seat in a special election and adding to their 52-48 member majority.
Do you think Donald Trump is simply vetting talent and building a “Team of Rivals” to make his administration more well-rounded? Or does Trump recognize the Democratic Party is in a fractured tailspin, and is looking for opportunities to court disenfranchised policymakers away from it? Or maybe he is just playing mind games with Democrat leadership?
Either way, the Democrats have an identity and enthusiasm crisis on their hands, and Team Trump is loving every minute of it.