All three lamented the increase in polarization in Congress, following a midterm election that wiped out the vast majority of centrist Democrats in the House. 

Both Nye and Maffei are weighing runs in 2012 to reclaim their seats. Nye said he will make a final decision sometime in the summer, while Maffei said his timeframe for a decision is sometime in the next two months.  

None of them exuded a great deal of optimism when it came to the current budget battle in Congress. 

Nye, who lost his seat to Republican Scott RigellEdward (Scott) Scott RigellGOP rushes to embrace Trump GOP lawmaker appears in Gary Johnson ad Some in GOP say Trump has gone too far MORE, said he sees "potential for a deal to be made" to avert a shutdown, pushed largely by the fact that the assignment of blame is tough to predict.  

"I don't think its clear right now who would come out worse from a shutdown," Nye said. "So that provides some pressure in that direction."   

Maffei likened the ongoing budget fight to a prisoner's dilemma, saying that if both the White House and Republicans in Congress cooperated "it would be best for both of them, but they don't trust the other side and so it's likely that they will not come up with anything." 

Maffei, who lost to Republican Ann Marie Buerkle by less than 700 votes last cycle, said he would be "surprised" if the president and Republicans in Congress came together in a meaningful way on the budget.   

"No question that there would be some blame attached to Republicans if the government was to shut down, but I think the political assumption should be that the disproportionate share of the blame would attach to the president," concluded Davis, who thinks the greatest threat is a short term shutdown.

"In the end, you won't have a long lasting shutdown for a very simple reason," he said. "Both sides will decide there's just too much risk in it."