Today, I pay tribute to the retiring Democrats in the United States Senate.
I start with Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota. Tom Daschle was a Majority and Minority leader. He represented his state in the House and in the Senate. He lossed because the GOP spent too much money in trying to upset the minority leader. Senatorial courtesy shows that it is wrong to unseat the leader of the opposition party. Tom Daschle will move on but he will continue to fight the good fight and when the Democrats when in 2006 and 2008, I expect to see him in the cabinet as a Secretary.
Senator John Breaux of Louisiana was a strong force in the Centrist coalition of the Senate. For the first time that I can remember, there will be a Republican from Louisiana in the Senate. Breaux believes in bipartisanship and can work with both parties. He believes in energy legislation. He was the youngest congressman when he was first elected in 1972. As conservative as his voting record may be, he is a moderate liberal populist and I wish he wasn't retiring.
Senator John Edwards of North Carolina was a virtual unknown when he won election in 1998. With the retirement of Jesse Helms in 2002, Edwards became the Senior Senator of his home state. He decided in 2002 to seek the presidency. He put up a good fight but decided not to seek re-election. He's now a household name after being named the VP Candidate of the Democratic party. If he doesn't run in 2008 for president, I can see him making a return to public service whether as Atty General or an election official. Regardless of fact, the fight must go on.
Senator Bob Graham of Florida was one of the most popular governors in Florida. He ran for president this year, and if he was on the ticket, he would have won Florida for us. Sadly, he decided not to seek re-election and his leadership will be missed. A moderate liberal, he will be missed in the Centrist coalition. He moves on to teach at Harvard this year.
Senator Ernest Hollings of South Carolina has been in public service since 1948 and was the Junior Senator until 2 years ago. He may come off as a conservative, but he is a moderate liberal populist and former Governor of SC. Hollings penned a controversial editorial in the May 6, 2004 in the Charleston Post and Courier, where he argued that Bush invaded Iraq because "spreading democracy in the Mideast to secure Israel would take the Jewish vote from the Democrats." Bush didn't quite get all that but Hollings is a good man. He has one of the best pro-public education records as ranked by the NEA. As conservative as SC is, I'm surprised that he kept getting re-elected. He should have stayed for 6 more years. He supports moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He sponsored legislation to bring back the draft but would vote against his own bill because you just can't do that.
I know that Zell Miller is highly controversial but he's a self-declared Democrat--a Conservative Democrat, but a Democrat nonetheless. Zell Miller started out as a progressive Governor before Roy Barnes suceeded him and appointed Zell to the Senate. He lost his way since then. He gave the keynote in 1992. If there is anything I agree with him, it's that he supports DARE and drunk drivers should be punished. Zell is a guy that believes that soft money from special interests is bribery and civil service must be reformed. He supported Max Cleland even though Zell has lost his ways since then.