2001: Jeffords Puts Democrats Back in Power

Posted May 20, 2005 at 3:29pm

[IMGCAP(1)]Sen. Jim Jeffords (Vt.) kept Democratic hopes of strengthening their party afloat in 2001 when he decided to leave the Republican Party to become an Independent and caucus with the Democrats.

Roll Call reported that with Jeffords’ decision, Democrats reclaimed “the Senate majority for the first time in more than six and a half years.”

As soon as Jeffords made the change, the Senate reorganized with Democrats taking committee chairmanships and then-Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) stepped into the role of Majority Leader.

“Mounting an all-out blitz to save their fragile Senate majority, Congressional Republicans and White House officials tried frantically to persuade [Jeffords] to remain a member of the Grand Old Party,” Roll Call reported.

Democrats mirrored the Republican persuasion when they simultaneously reached out to “other disgruntled Republicans,” such as Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lincoln Chafee (R.I.), but could not convince them to change alliances.

The Democratic majority was short-lived however, as Republicans regained control in the 2002 elections.

Today Jeffords is still making headlines in Roll Call. Last month he announced that he will retire at the end of the 109th Congress.