It has been a very rough patch for Republicans on the Senate Commerce Committee, and each situation has been a snowflake, completely unrelated to any other. In 2006, Conrad Burns (R-MT) lost his seat in a very close election that hinged in part on his dealings with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. But the senator who really made headlines was George Allen (R-VA), who became the first politician to be victimized by YouTube. Since then, other members have had problems crop up. John Sununu (R-NH), who was narrowly elected in 2002, is suffering from very weak approval ratings in his home state, the prospect of a strong Democratic opponent and a bullseye painted on him by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Ranking Member Ted Stevens (R-AK) is under investigation for dealings with companies back in Alaska, and recent Chairman John McCain, while not facing loss of his Senate seat, is having all kinds of well-documented problems in his current run for the White House. Now add David Vitter (R-LA) to the list. While many readers may not realize Vitter is a member of Commerce, most readers are probably aware of the troubles he is now facing. If not, suffice it to say he has emerged as the most notable victim in the case of the DC Madame, which has set off a flurry of journalistic excavations back in his home state as well as in Washington. He has been keeping a low profile, but according to a colleague, he plans to reappear this week. His ability to ride this out is of course unknown. He is not up for re-election until 2010.
SmartMedia observation: The Commerce Committee is considered to be a plum assignment. We're not superstitious, but it is Friday the 13th as we write these words, and we have to wonder if some Republicans will think twice before accepting a regular seat in Russell Senate Office Building Room 253.