January 6 2005, 7:32 AM
Ken Salazar has been a United States Senator for less than 48 hours and he already is facing a historic decision -- whether to support a challenge to the slate of electors from the State of Ohio that is expected to be presented to the Senate today by a group of representatives led by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). No one thinks the challenge would cause Ohio's slate of Bush electors to be replaced by a Kerry slate (which would make Kerry the new president) -- after all, any challenge would be resolved by the GOP-controlled House and Senate. Nevertheless, there is a lot of pressure on Democratic senators to give a forum to air complaints about the numerous documented irregularities in the election in Ohio this year. And certainly, there is a great deal of lingering embarrassment and resentment over the gaveling down of similar challenges from Florida in 2000 for lack of a Senate co-sponsor -- the scene that opened Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 last year. Unlike Al Gore in 2000, John Kerry doesn't plan to be in the Senate chambers today as the challenge to Bush's win is presented. And Kerry has already announced that he won't co-sponsor a challenge to the Ohio vote. That gives a freshman Senator like Salazar all the cover he needs not to become a co-sponsor of the objection. But if another senator does support the challenge -- and rumor has it Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) may be that senator -- then Salazar will end up casting his vote on the results of the Ohio election this year. This is probably not how he wants his career as a Senator to begin.