Two developments last week have made it likely that the changes on the Senate Commerce Committee will start right at the top. The members from the 49th and 50th states, who often refer to each other as co-chairs, both appear to be on the move. On the Democratic side, Appropriations Committee Chair Robert Byrd (D-WV) has agreed to step down, and it is widely believed that Commerce Chair Daniel Inouye (D-HI) will slide over into Byrd’s vacated chair. On the Republican side, Ted Stevens (R-AK) watched a slim lead over Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D-AK) disappear soon after a massive pile of absentee and questioned ballots began to be counted. According to David Dittman, who handles Stevens’ polling, the Republican is not likely to regain the lead. One reason – ballots from Begich’s Anchorage stomping grounds have not yet been added into the mix and won’t be counted until today, or even as late as Wednesday, according to the Anchorage Daily News.
RBR/TVBR observation: If a natural order of ascendancy takes place, the leaders will be Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). But the situation remains fluid. Stay tuned.