Despite what the liberal media likes to portray, Democrats are not a monolithic group--indeed conservative Democrats such as myself make up over 20% of the party. So instead of worrying about the Dems now 60-vote majority, the Right should worry more about keeping RINO's like Olympia Snowe in check in the future.
Former Sen. Norm Coleman conceded defeat in his eight-month recount battle after the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled former comedian Al Franken the winner of the state's contested Senate seat, giving Democrats a 60-vote majority supermajority that could make Senate Republicans largely irrelevant.
While Franken's win will allow Democrats to push some legislation through without the worry of a Republican filibuster, the party will still have to grapple with defections from its many centrists who have the power to derail key legislation, including global warming fees that just passed the House.
"It's not correct to think that the caucus will be unified," said Jake Thompson, an aide to Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., who is one of at least a dozen moderate Democrats who meet regularly. "There are a number of independent minds in that group and they will stay that way."
Nelson and other moderate Senate Democrats will likely become key figures in the effort to pass health care reform and a climate-change bill.
Nelson, for example, is opposed to a cap-and-trade plan, which would set limits on carbon emissions and requires polluters who exceed a certain cap to purchase costly permits.
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., has said she will not "rubber-stamp" a cap-and-trade proposal. President Barack Obama praised the House cap-and-trade bill and is now pushing for the Senate to move similar legislation.
"It's going to be a tough fight," Thompson said. Other Senate moderates include Sens. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
Centrist Democrats are also opposed to aspects of the health care overhaul bill under construction in the Senate, including a plan to create a public health insurance option that would compete and potentially undermine the private insurance system.