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nellie On January - 6 - 2010

Whether Obama bashing, teeth gnashing, tea party crashing, or GOP trashing—it’s time for progressives to stop talking the talk and start walking the walk. There be elections here! (Yes, I’m a trekkie.) And we have a chance to create a REAL 60 vote majority in the senate.

One-third of the Senate is up for re-election this year—18 Dem seats and 18 GOP seats. All seats, however, are not created equal. CQ Politics draws the electoral map this way. They predict Dems will lose one seat in the senate. That would turn the current senate boondoggle into a virtual deadlock.

Fortunately, there’s another way to look at the landscape. With help from motivated supporters, Dems might have a chance to take more seats away from the GOP. And that would mean a real working majority in the Senate. What a concept!

Which senators are up for reelection in 2010?

There are three categories of open seats: (1) incumbents, (2) retirements, and (3) place holders.

WIth the announcements from Chris Dodd and Byron Dorgan, the number of retirement seats went up by two this week. The retirements:

Retiring
Chris Dodd, CT (D)
Byron Dorgan, ND (D)

Sam Brownback, KS (R)
Kit Bond, MO (R)
Judd Gregg, NH (R)
George Voinovich, OH (R)

There’s a good chance that the increasingly liberal politics in New Hampshire and Ohio will give Democratic challengers an opening, especially if progressives are motivated in those states. Kansas gave us Kathleen Sebelius, so who knows what could happen there? And with Kit Bond’s ethics problems, perhaps the citizens of the Show Me state will give democrats an opportunity to show what they can do with a functioning majority.

On the Democratic side, the senate race in North Dakota could turn out to be a repeat of the Al Franken race in Minnesota—only with Ed Schultz. If Ed can get himself into the Senate, we would have some very interesting legislative sessions. (UPDATE: Schultz has indicated on Keith Olbermann’s Countdown that he is not interested, but he did not shut the door all the way.) And what of Chris Matthews and his hinting at the Connecticut seat? It’s hard to know what to say about that. Most analysts agree, however, that with Dodd out of the running as the incumbent, Dems have a much better chance of retaining this seat.

The most interesting group of seats up for grabs, in my humble opinion, are the place holders—vacancies filled by gubernatorial appointment, usually after the occupant has moved on to better things. Sadly, one of these seats was left open last year by Teddy Kennedy. Place holders are often seen as wild cards, but we have good reason to be optimistic about these elections in 2010.

Place holders
Ted Kaufman for Joe Biden, DE (D)
Roland Burris for Barack Obama, IL (D)
Kirsten Gillibrand for Hillary Clinton, NY

Paul Kirk for Ted Kennedy, MA (D) to be held January 19

George LeMieux for Mel Martinez, FL (R)
Michael Bennett for Kent Salazar, CO (R)

Mel Martinez made it pretty clear that the teabagger activity within the GOP was not to his taste. Not at all. Which suggests we’re in for another New York congressional district 23 -type primary in Florida. If the Tea Party knocks out Charlie Cris, the Dem challenger has a better than even chance of becoming Florida’s next senator.

Last, but certainly not least, the incumbents:

Democratic incumbents
Blanche Lincoln, AK
Barbara Boxer, CA
Daniel Inouye, HA
Evan Bayh, IN
Barbara Mikulski, MD
Harry Reid, NV
Chuck Schumer, NY
Ron Wyden, OR
Arlen Specter, PA
Patrick Leahy, VT
Patty Murray, WA
Russ Feingold, WI

Republican incumbents
Richard Shelby, AL
Lisa Murkowski, AK
John McCain, AZ
Johnny Isakson, GA
Mike Crapo, ID
Chuck Grassley, IA
Jim Bunning, KY
David Vitter, LA
Richard Burr, NC
Tom Coburn, OK
Jim DeMint, SC
John Thune, SD
Bob Bennett, UT

Roll Call ran an article in 2008 forecasting problems the GOP was likely to have in the 2010 senate races. Some of what they had to say has come to pass, although not exactly in the way Roll Call predicted. The GOP did lose Arlen Specter, but not through retirement. Kit Bond, Mel Martinez, and Voinovich are not only vulnerable, but entirely out of the picture. Revisiting Roll Call’s predictions, Dems might have reason to be optimistic about the Jim Bunning and David Vitter races.

Finally, no political forecasting exercise would be complete without a mention of Nate Silver, whose uncanny statistical work on the 2008 presidential election has become legendary. Silver’s analysis of senate outcomes should buoy the left all the way through the election cycle. He has posted this analysis on FiveThirtyEight, showing a net gain of two seats for the Democrats.

So, let the media talking heads continue to forecast gloom and doom. The field looks promising, notwithstanding. And if progressives and liberals stay motivated, get involved, and get to work, we might just end up with a senate that can push through the president’s ambitious agenda.

Note: Corrections welcome.

65 Responses so far.

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  1. javaz says:

    Oh Dog.
    Ed Shultz, really?
    Chris Matthews, really?

    Pardon me, but they are not Al Franken.

    Ed is a Repig in disguise, imho, and Matthews?
    Twinkle toes?
    I don’t think so.
    But since I do not live in either state, it’s not my problem.

    Where I do live, now that’s a huge problem.
    McCain will win again hands down and all the drama is just that, drama.
    JD Hayworth is supposedly running against McCain, and the racist, bigot teabaggers love Hayworth, but no way and once again, imho.

    Heck, in AZ we have a NRA board member tossing in 2 million of his own money and running for governor, and he’s supposedly already polling 25% of the votes.

    Dog save us.

    So, how is it in Oregon?
    Isn’t Oregon blue?
    Living in a red state is really getting on our nerves.

    • SueInCa says:

      I almost moved to AZ about 5 years ago, some instinct steered my away, now I see what it was…..

    • nellie says:

      I love getting the inside info on the states! This is exactly the problem w relying on the msm. Everywhere I look, “McCain is in trouble, McCain is in trouble.” I believe you, javaz. Darn it all.

      • bitohistory says:

        Nellie, j’avaz has it exactly right. All the talk is is just that-talk. McCain will will win and I would put money on that. The state GOP doesn’t like him, thee teabaggers don’t like him, I don’t like him and his arrogant a**!
        If there is any silver lining he tends to be less severe in his RW talk after an election and becomes less strident. He will be working on his “legacy in this last term. We will see.

        • SueInCa says:

          I wonder if he will make it through another full term…..just saying

          • bitohistory says:

            Sue, he is pretty feisty and he does have the best best HC in the country. When he had his skin cancer, he jumped the line over many people waiting months to get an appointment at Mayo’s for the same thing.

      • javaz says:

        There’s no Democrat that I know about running against him.
        I’m sure there must be one out there, but I haven’t heard of him/her.
        McCain is like Goldwater, and I actually liked Goldwater once he got older and feisty and spoke out continuously against Reagan and Reagan Republicans.
        McCain wins, but that’s just my opinion, and it would be nice if Khirad or B’ito disagreed.

        • bitohistory says:

          I can’t disagree, j’avaz.
          Edit: Here is a thought, if the Dems had an Indian from one of the AZ nations, they would give him a good contest.
          Ya think? Now, whom?

          • javaz says:

            McCain wins on his reputation of being an ‘Arizona Son.’
            Kyl will keep going on, too, because Arizona is a RED redneck state.
            I do think Goddard will win for governor, but what do I know.
            Even though Goddard pisses me off for not investigating Sheriff Joe and Andy Thomas, I’ll vote for him, and I do think he’ll beat out the NRA guy that no one’s ever heard of.

            As for a Native American?
            No way, unless you know something I don’t?
            What do you think?

            • bitohistory says:

              j’avaz, Just a thought, that’s all. I am not saying it would be a winner but it would get the out the vote (GOTV) in the hispanic and and tribes. It would make for a nationally watched and supported election. I may make a phone call on this thought.
              BTW- Did you hear that a prof. from UofA was appointed to the Obama admin. to head “rual HC”?
              She taught something in that field on Indian health care in Tucson.

  2. KQuark says:

    Nellie here is another great story by Nate Silver on the midterms. He like you point out there are challenges but opportunities as well.

    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2010/01/2010-senate-races-present-rewards-but.html

    Here’s a great run down of the prospects in the Senate.

    ” alt=”senate” />

    I’m pessimistic and think losing a seat or more is inevitable. It all depends on the job picture during the election and the quality of the Democratic candidates.

    • nellie says:

      Yep, that’s the chart I was referring to.

      I agree that it depends on the job picture, but I hear rumblings that the job picture is going to pick up in a few months. That makes sense, given the recovery stats so far. If that happens, it will be a huge boon for the dems.

      But I also think that the GOP obstruction over the past year presents some of the best negative campaign material we’ve seen in a long time. If they’ll just use it.

      Maybe we can work up our own ads and put them up on the You Tubes.

      • choicelady says:

        Wonder of wonders we are actually starting to hire in CA, even in Sacramento. Not a lot, but a bit. What mystifies me is the amount of last year’s federal stimulus that never got spent. Who’s hoarding and why? CA has billions left, and even though we supposedly have an overseer, she is so in the Guv’s pocket we never hear a critique. But it should pop and soon, and while it is mostly blue-collar while the Sacto layoffs are white collar, it should help a lot of the state if not the capitol.

        I think we should all remember the 1930s -- save for the CCC, the major projects under FDR did not come about immediately. He had the advantage in Congress of having people so battered and bruised from three years of Hoover that the mid term elections were not a huge deal, but I am hopeful Nate is right and that even the stupid arrogant progressives I know have enough sense to vote. Sitting this out is not an option. I think Boxer will be fine. In fact if the business as usual standard of hate Congress love MY rep holds up, most seats will be all right. Except those held by doofus people such as Ensign and Vitter -- voters have SOME sense of decorum if not political wisdom! I hope!

        • SueInCa says:

          Hey Choice Lady, I am in Rocklin LOL

        • nellie says:

          Whose quote do we keep passing around:

          How can giving more power to the GOP possibly make things better?

          I think that’s something we need to keep saying over and over again.

          The problem is the GOP, not the Dems. Out of 59 dems, we have, what… two, three clunkers? Out of the Republicans, every last one of them is an obstructionist.

          That’s the message. VOTE OUT THE GOP.

          Progressives need to get energized about that.

          • Chernynkaya says:

            I agree with you, and while the Dems as a Party are polling badly, the Reps are polling even lower. But unless Obama does something to energize the base, I think the elections will be squeakers at best. The Party out of office is always more energized anyway, and I really am very concerned that too many Dems will stay home. Jobs will help, but I don’t see the base excited about that. I disagree with the base on this, but I believe it is a real fact, whether I agree with them or not. What I DO see as critical is, as you say, reminding them of how very, very much worse the reptilians are. That must be a motivator!

      • KQuark says:

        Shite my reading comprehension sucks.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      OT, but I noticed this on 538 too about terror in the skies:

      There were a total of 674 passengers, not counting crew or the terrorists themselves, on the flights on which these incidents occurred. By contrast, there have been 7,015,630,000 passenger enplanements over the past decade. Therefore, the odds of being on given departure which is the subject of a terrorist incident have been 1 in 10,408,947 over the past decade. By contrast, the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are about 1 in 500,000. This means that you could board 20 flights per year and still be less likely to be the subject of an attempted terrorist attack than to be struck by lightning.

      Makes one feel safer, no?

      • KQuark says:

        I know a “random act of God” is not the same as a terrorist attack but the cold hard reality is I would feel safer going on a plane than going to downtown Atlanta for a Thrashers game.

  3. Chernynkaya says:

    OK, Nellie-- this is really important stuff! Awesome work BTW-- truly valuable. And meanwhile, the MSM meme is that the Dems are done for. ~snort~

    I was watching Hardball last night and Matthews asked the Republican shill, “What have the R’s done for the country? What are you gonna tell the voters?” The guy mumbled, but Chris nailed him. There was the sound of crickets. I do think this could be a good opportunity. But I want Obama to come down much much harder on financial regulations. He can really gain something and he must, IMHO, stop seeming on the side of Wall St.

    • nellie says:

      I think this is important, too, Cher. And I want to see the progressive bloggers pushing the message “GET OUT THERE AND OUST THE GOP!”

      Financial regs, like health care reforms, are going to be drafted and passed in congress. That’s where we need votes. All the more reason to get involved in these elections. If people are unhappy with the president’s middle-of-the-road economic policies, they need to get out there and put some real Democrats in those senate seats.

      • bitohistory says:

        nellie, the “progressive” bloggers and talkers need to get off their “purity” list rant. The Goobers are made fun of with their list and “What Would St. Ronnie Do?” test, why do some so-called progressives want one for all Dems?
        My rep is a member of the blue dawg caucus, she has to be! her voting barely reflects it on 95% of the votes, but she gets grief for that.

        • nellie says:

          People sometimes forget their representatives represent more than one person!

          That “purist” label comes in really handy. It describes some of these attitudes perfectly.

          • bitohistory says:

            Nellie, we have a university here, we have a large Mexican population, we have a large ‘rez”, we have a large Air Force base and defense contractors, western libertarians, rednecks, ranchers… You name it. I do not envy her and the tight rope she walks. I admire her. Her stance on solar power is admirable.

  4. bitohistory says:

    Good job, nellie, (as always),
    In FL yesterday the GOP state chairman quit over the split on the Senate seat. If the teabaggers get their way in the primary….. It could be large fight. Anyone know who the leading Dem is for that seat?
    Ohio, BDM and boomer, what is the skinny on that open seat? Can you draft Senator Brown’s wife for that seat?~smile~. Who is the Dem leader there?

    • kesmarn says:

      b’ito, the current Dem front runners in Ohio seem to be Lee Fischer and Jennifer Brunner. I think Fischer is quite a decent guy, but don’t know as much about him as I should. I really do like Brunner, though, because she has been very serious about cleaning up the tremendous mess left behind by her predecessor as Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell.

      As you may know, Blackwell had the dubious distinction of being State Republican Party Chairman, Secretary of State (simultaneously!!) and a shareholder in the Diebold Company which manufactured voting machines for the State of Ohio! Can we say: “CONFLICT OF INTEREST X 3???”

      So she had the miserable job of restoring integrity to the electoral process. Which included guaranteeing a paper back-up of every vote cast, and an adequate number of voting machines per district. (Blackwell had things set up so that voters in rich white districts had virtually zero wait times to vote, whereas college or inner city precincts were still trying to get long lines processed at midnight!! Blackwell is a black guy, BTW. Kinda like Michael Steele.)

      So, I think Brunner would be a great person for the Senate seat. We shall see…

      • bitohistory says:

        K’es, thanks, I will try to remember those names. I have heard of Brunner but I don’t recall Fischer. Is he a US Rep?
        Thanks for the refresh on Blackwell. Oh, I do remember him! He a piece of …..work! Wonder what Corp. he is working for now? KBR? Blackwater?

        • kesmarn says:

          B’ito, I saw Blackwell interviewed as a “Republican Commentator” awhile back and nearly tossed my cookies. The only thing he’s an expert on is rigging elections. Maybe S’arah P. would be interested? I think you’re on to something in that he could start a sort of Political Blackwater Corp. A genuine hitman, is he.

          Sorry, I misspelled Fisher’s name! He was attorney general and then lieutenant governor of Ohio. I’ll have to do a little more research on him.

    • BigDogMom says:

      Bito-I’m from CT….Dodd’s seat is safe with Blumenthal, we have to wait till 2012 to get Lieberman out, looks like that will go to a Dem also.

  5. KevenSeven says:

    Fine work there, Nellie.

    I have been banging this drum over at the other site for some time. I have been saying that we gain three or four seats in the Senate. If we do, even two, that will be a tectonic shift in the politics in DC.

    I see it as a very real possibility that we end the year with more, rather than less senators.

  6. BigDogMom says:

    nellie, good post…would love to somehow go after the MSM with a letter/e-mail campaign regarding all this doom and gloom for the Dems.

    Not sure it would work, there are other sites out there, MediaMatters, but they seem to concentrate on certain personalities, not what the MSM reports in general.

    Would love to go after CNN and the big Networks, to see if we could take it back and have ‘fair and balanced’ and ‘the whole story’ news reporting once again…just my dream.

    • SueInCa says:

      Not such a crazy idea Big Mom. Perhaps an opportunity for us here to monitor the networks and point out when they are teling “fibs” or stretching the truth. It is also good policy to research their so called “experts”, alot of times you wil find them attached to some fringe or national group with an ulterior motive. Problem is no one would prob offer to monitor faux news without throwing up their cookies every time they had to watch.

  7. homeless05 says:

    One of the truths we are beginning to appreciate is that Obama’s election was influenced heavily by an anti-Bush voter sentiment, not the quest for change through a “yes we can” sentiment. That said, I think 2010 elections won’t be partisan in the traditional sense; it will be driven by an anti-incumbent sentiment.

    Consequently all these typical election cycle tea leaf analysis by people who are simply part of the “election industry” will prove to be wrong in their predictions. (I don’t mean to imply this toward Nellie who has presented nothing but the facts.) The anger and frustration is unknowable today and won’t be realized until the day after Nov. elections.

    • nellie says:

      There’s certainly more than enough frustration to go around. My frustration is with a 40-seat obstructionist voting block in the senate that makes every miniscule move toward progress like dragging a ginormous boulder 50 miles uphill.

      I think an important feature of the 2010 elections is going to be the president’s agenda. Do we want it passed or not? Do we want a watered down, concesssioned-to-death version of legislation, or do we want something more robust?

      Dems have a strong message to put out there. And progressives have plenty of incentive to get involved. I hope we stay focused and energized.

  8. msbadger says:

    The people who are so disaffected that they won’t even vote really chap my hide. With friends like them, who needs enemies?! Morons! Anyway, thanks, Nellie, for an interesting analysis of the situation. I’m all in favor of trying to realistically shore up our morale and give us more ideas of how to get ahead of the Repubs.

    • jan4insight says:

      You said it, msbadger! I’ve been saying it for years now to the many fair-weather liberals I’ve come across who think they’re gonna make such a big effing “statement” by not voting -- or voting 3rd party when that just hands it all to the Repugs.

      Speaking of which, the Repug’s never seem to have that problem of stay-at-home voters. If there’s one secret we could learn from them, I wish that could be it.

      Final note: there was a lot good stuff re the election & more on Wednesday night’s Countdown. Worth checking out for anyone who hasn’t seen it ~

      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036677/

  9. Khirad says:

    Thoughts on DLC Harold Ford, Jr. taking on Gillibrand?

    • nellie says:

      I saw that today. I’m indifferent. Either one, I think, would win that seat. Ford is unpredictable, but I doubt he’d be much different form Gillibrand.

      Is Cuomo going to challenge?

      • bitohistory says:

        Where is this rumor coming from? Did he (Ford) say anything about this challenge? I don’t see it. I’m with KQ, good for the south but NY?

      • KQuark says:

        Gillibrand has been a bit of pleasant surprise considering her background. She is heading up ending DADT and was one of the few Senators who voted against demonizing ACORN.

        • Khirad says:

          I know, she has taken a cue from her new constituents, it seems.

          Ford’s moderate, even conservadem tendencies make him better to stay in the South. I still can’t get over the fact that they elected that idiot Corker over him. Well, honestly, I’m really not that surprised.

  10. PatsyT says:

    This is fantastic,
    The repubs can not win by repeating garbage over and over.
    Where are their big ideas?
    How do they solve these serious issues?
    I do not believe the doomy and gloomy types that are warning of big dem loses.
    But maybe that can be some motivation
    The key is getting those on the side lines to see the reason to get Fired Up.
    I like what KQ has stated below

    ~How can giving the GOP more power posibly make things better ?~

    That should be going as a response to all of those that go on with the
    —-Obama has not delivered—- Waa Waa
    Oh, grow up
    I say
    and vote!

    • KQuark says:

      Republicans don’t need no stinkin’ ideas.

      They have a Faux News, right wing talk radio, corporate MSM and the rest of the right wing echo chamber who never waiver in their support of the GOP.

      Democrats have Huffington Post and the progressive saints that are waiting for the coming of the perfect progressive.

      Now who do you think will win in this fight?

  11. abby4ever says:

    These kinds of articles are very helpful to me…and to my husband and our American friends over here too. Naturally, being across the pond, we miss out on a lot of the goings on in Congress, the White House, the Hill in general and and all things related to all three. Sure, we read American newspapers online and read British newspapers both on and off line. But, as with all newspapers and especially when one country’s newspapers get to writing about another country’s current politics and upcoming elections, etc., you never know if they are getting even the rough story quite right, let alone the details.

    This one is well put together and informs us of many things we didn’t know. I will save it to file, for reference.

    Thanks for doing it.

  12. escribacat says:

    Here in Colorado, Bennett made a pretty good effort to come out in favor of the public option. He even announced at one point that he was willing to lose his seat over the issue. At one time both he and Udall were reported as Blue Dogs —

    http://coloradoindependent.com/24480/udall-bennet-join-blue-dog-group-of-moderate-democratic-senators

    … but their names have since disappeared from the roster!! (I noticed it a few months ago.) Wonder what that means.

    BTW, Colorado is usually a red state. I’m pretty sure that the main reason we went blue is because so many Californians moved here (myself included — hehe).

  13. KQuark says:

    How can giving more power to the GOP possibly make things better?

    Never was there a more illogical premise.

    I know progressives complain about incrementalism but even moving forward in small steps is infinitely better than moving backwards. It also ignores the reality that progressive change has always been an incremental process.

    • abby4ever says:

      KQ: forgive the abrupt question but who is this Blumenthal everyone keeps saying might replace Dodd? I mean: is he well-thought of and competent…and not a Blue Dog…etc.?

      :]

      • BigDogMom says:

        Abby, as a resident of CT I can give you a little overview of Blumenthal.

        He came out against the new Banking regulation bill because it did not address the Hedge Fund issues of regulation, very soft regs., we have the largest concentration of hedge funds here in CT than in the rest of the country.

        He also had an issue with the Fed. regulation overriding the State Banking regs….he has fought for some of the harshest regs. he could in a Republican State Senate.

        He was very involved in the Big Tobacco lawsuit, and just recently went after our Governor, J. Rell (R), for diverting the tobacco funds to the general fund last year in a hush hush manner. The funds are supposed to be used for smoking sensation classes, public ads, etc.

        Also went after the governor once again for diverting the Lotto funds and the none-profit vanity plates to the general fund. The lotto funds where supposed to go for education and the non-profit vanity plates, like ‘Save the Sound’ where supposed to go to various non-profits that support that cause. So he is not so well liked by the republicans here in CT, this could be the reason that the governor has chosen not run for re-election. He’s got a lot of dirt on her…she’s a Bush wannabe.

        He fights for the little guy, not a great speaker, but a pit bull once he gets involved. Is extremely popular here, has some issues by being connected/friends with Dodd, nothing that his record can’t overcome.

        • abby4ever says:

          to BigDogMom:

          I just now saw your post to me about Blumenthal, thank you very much for taking the time to write it.

          He sounds like my kind of candidate. A politician who can seem to remember that ‘I serve’ is what’s it’s all about.

          No wonder he’s popular; they are such a rarity.

          Thanks again!

          abby

      • KQuark says:

        I don’t know anything about Blumenthal to be honest.

      • Khirad says:

        Yes, I think, highly regarded. He is sort of a shoe-in, the way it sounds. I’m not a Connecticut expert though…

  14. Tiger99 says:

    The sad news from Deep Dark Jungles of Oklahoma is that Tom Coburn will more than likely go unchallenged in this election… Governor Brad Henry has been tabbed to run against him but so far he has balked at the idea…

    • KQuark says:

      Oklahoma is about as lost a cause as it gets. It’s the only state where Obama did not win one county.

      • abby4ever says:

        Why not? I mean: why not even one …in Oklahoma?

        • Khirad says:

          Because it’s not even Woody Guthrie’s Oklahoma or the Indian Territory anymore. :-(

          • Tiger99 says:

            For the first time in our history in 2008 the State Legislative Branches have come under GOP control… Soon after the nutso Sally Kern and her bunch announced the “Take Back Oklahoma For Jesus” campaign… They are erecting a momument to the 10 Commandments on the State Capitol Grounds, They passed the Abortion Law that everyone is well aware of, and now Sally Kern wants to restrict “incompatibility as a ground for divorce…” An Act relating to marriage, amending 43 O.S. 2001, Section 101, which relates to grounds for divorce; restricting the use of incompatibility as a ground for divorce
            Seventh. Incompatibility. Provided, however, that the court shall not grant a divorce on the ground of incompatibility if:
            1. There are living minor children of the marriage;
            2. The parties have been married ten (10) years or longer; or
            3. Either party files a written objection to the granting of a divorce.


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