Members of the United States Senate stand for re-election every six years. Only one-third face re-election every two years. Out of the 33 senators who went through a rigorous campaign and heard from their constituents on a daily basis, eight are freshman Democrats. (Five more are freshman, but were appointed and did not campaign.)Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota), Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colorado), Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Sen. Kay Hagan (D-North Carolina), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) are all on board for a public option.
The perspective of these freshman senators is valuable since they recently were out campaigning in their states and thus have a fresh perspective on what their constituents want. I would urge all senators to listen to what they are saying about the public option.
One freshman senator opposes a public option, but would vote for a bill with a public option in it. A spokesman for Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) told Brian Beutler of Talking Points Memo that, "Warner would vote for a health care bill with a public option. It's not a make or break thing - he wants to see a health reform bill that contains costs, and if it includes a public option ... he would vote for it."
One freshman senator, Mark Begich (D-Alaska), is not on the record and his staff has indicated to Truthout that he would not come out in support or against a public option until he saw how it would be paid for in the final bill.
The five newly appointed senators are all on board for the public option with Sen. Roland Burris (D-Illinois), even threatening to not support a bill that does not include a public option. Sen. Paul Kirk (D-Massachusetts), the newest appointee, is carrying the torch of Ted Kennedy.
Every senator, especially those up for re-election, should heed the call of these senators who just went through hard-fought elections. Some of these senators come from traditionally red states, many from purple states, so the Blue Dogs should follow their lead. Senators Pryor, Lincoln, Lieberman, Landrieu, Bayh and Nelson (Nebraska), you, more than any other senators are standing in the way of real change. The other Blue Dogs, like Senator Warner and Senator Hagen, are putting the country first. At least commit to Senator Warner's position and pledge to not vote against a bill with a public option. If you can't do that, pledge to not support a filibuster, and vote your conscience when the bill goes up for a final vote.Read it all at Truthout.