Making the 17th Amendment a campaign issue

MAKING THE 17TH AMENDMENT A CAMPAIGN ISSUE…. It’s become one of the great examples of contemporary conservative nuttiness — the growing push among Tea Partiers and other Republicans to repeal the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, which allows Americans to elect their own U.S. senators.

The right is, alas, completely serious about this. Marc Ambinder recently noted that the position has “become a part of the Tea Party orthodoxy.”

Democrats, betting that the American mainstream might find all of this bizarre, are starting to embrace this as part of the Democratic campaign strategy this year. In Colorado, for example, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee last month launched its first ad, going after Republican Senate nominee Ken Buck’s remarks supporting repeal of the 17th.

Greg Sargent reports this morning that “vulnerable Dem incumbents are now beginning to air ads hammering GOP opponents who have come out in support of repealing the direct popular election of U.S. Senators.” Specifically, Democratic Florida Reps. Suzanne Kosmos and Allen Boyd both have new ads up, hammering their respective Republican opponents for wanting state lawmakers to choose the country’s U.S. senators.

I have no idea whether this will resonate with voters — I suspect focus groups liked the message, or Dems wouldn’t be running with it — but it should. In fact, I see this as something of a disqualifier — candidates who oppose Americans electing their own senators are almost certainly not part of the political mainstream.

Enough right-wing GOP candidates this year are on board with this, though, so it’s an argument that’s worth keeping an eye on.