What Might Have Been

For Republican Congressman Pete King—who only recently ruled out a Senate run against a seemingly safe but possibly vulnerable Democrat—watching Scott Brown’s improbable victory last night gave him a flicker of pause.

“For a brief moment I thought, ‘God, that could have been me,'” Mr. King told me this afternoon.

The Long Island congressman said he watched Democrats lose their filibuster-proof majority surrounded by disappointed colleagues from across the aisle.

“I was with a group of them when the numbers started coming in and—to a man—they were telling me they’d tell the leadership they could not even consider supporting the Senate bill,” said Mr. King.

He said the win would “energize” Republicans. “I think it makes at least 40 or 50 Democratic seats now in play. Not only that, we have candidates coming forward to run against Democrats in pretty secure Democratic districts,” he said, adding that would tie up campaign dollars that might have gone to help bolster candidates in less-secure districts.

Mr. Brown’s win bodes well for Mr. King. He passed on a Senate run in the hopes that the G.O.P. could retake the House and re-install him as chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.

Which might make committee hearings like the one today—an inquiry into the White House “gatecrashers“—much less frustrating.

In the absence of White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers—who has not been subpoenaed by the committee’s Democratic leadership, despite Mr. King’s best efforts—the committee was left to question the gatecrashers themselves, Tareq and Michaele Salahi, who responded to each inquiry by pleading the Fifth.

“They’re almost incidental in this. To me, they’re a symptom of what went wrong,” said Mr. King, who did not ask the couple any questions. More important is how they got in, he said, and what might have happened.

“They could have been terrorists, they could have been psychopaths, they could have attacked the president, the vice president,” he said. “At those events there are sharp instruments and if you’re somebody who’s skilled, you could lunge—I mean, they had their arm around Joe Biden. And also to be so close to the prime minister of India.”

What Might Have Been