| The death of Ted Kennedy just went from "that's sad" to "oh shit!" I've been saying for ages that we're lucky to have Tom Harkin chairing the Senate Ag Committee because he takes some very good stances on things like organics and child nutrition. And I've also said that if we want true change in food & ag policy, we need to shake up the membership and leadership of both ag committees, particularly the House.
Well, with the loss of Sen. Kennedy, we might be getting that shake-up, but not in a good way. Kennedy chaired the Senate's HELP committee (Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions). Next in line for that post is Dodd, who already chairs Banking. If Dodd keeps his chairmanship for Banking, then the HELP chairmanship goes to Harkin. And if Harkin takes it... then there's a vacancy for Ag.
Next in line for the Ag chairmanship are Kent Conrad, Max Baucus, and Pat Leahy. However, right now Conrad's got Budget, Baucus has Finance, and Leahy has Judiciary. There's about zero chance that any of them would give up those posts in order to take Agriculture. Next in line for Ag is.... Blanche Lincoln (D-Tyson & Walmart). And that's some seriously bad news.
In addition to her conservative policy positions, here's a taste of who in the lobbying world used to work for Sen. Lincoln:
Greg Means (Alpine Group) - Managed Blanche Lincoln's 1992 House campaign
Charles Barnett (Alpine Group) - Leg Asst to Blanche Lincoln 1999-2003
Clients: 3M, BP America, Home Depot, Renewable Energy Group Inc
Kelly Bingel (Mehman Vogel Castagnetti, Inc) - Chief of Staff to Blanche Lincoln 1993-2005
Clients: Abbott Labs, America's Health Insurance Plans, American Petroleum Institute, Business Round Table, Clean Energy Fuels Corporation (a natural gas company), Merck, Proctor & Gamble, Walmart
Ben Noble (Troutman Sanders Public Affairs Group, LLC) - Policy Advisor to Blanche Lincoln 2000-2001
Clients: Agricultural Development Council, Anheuser Busch, Gulf Coast Waste Disposal Authority, Monsanto, National Cotton Council of America, USA Rice Federation