The Cap-and-Tax 52

There’s been a lot of outrage directed at the 8 Republicans who voted for the Democrat “cap-and-trade” bill. That’s fair. I think the bill was one of the worst monstrosities ever to come to a vote in Congress, and I would have liked to see all Republicans vote against it. But there’s a few things I think should be kept in mind:

1. The 8 Republicans, or at least some of them, were voting their districts. For instance, Washington-8 (Dave Reichert’s district) went 57% for Obama. It has been trending away from Republicans for years, and it is full of upscale latte-drinking software designers who take the “Republican war on science” nonsense seriously. The only way to get elected there as a Republican is to position yourself against the national party on issues like the environment. I’m less familiar with the other districts but suspect many of them are similar. According to the Almanac of American Politics, Mark Kirk and Leonard Lance both represent districts with median income above $70,000. A primary challenge against these members will likely result in the election of Democrats who would be much worse on national security, health care, and other issues that many conservatives care about.

2. You may or may not think “voting their districts” is a legitimate excuse, but at least it’s a better excuse than the Republican Party’s 2008 presidential nominee had for not just supporting, but actually sponsoring similar legislation. I mention this with some trepidation, simply to observe that many of us did end up grudgingly voting for McCain because he was better than the alternative.

3. In my humble opinion, the real energy should go into targeting the dozens of Democrats who didn’t vote their districts, but supported the bill because Nancy Pelosi and Henry Waxman told them to. Republicans picked up 52 seats in 1994, and in that spirit, I’ve compiled a list of 52 Democrats who should be made to answer for this vote on the campaign trail. Obviously, this doesn’t include the dozens of Democrats who voted against cap-and-tax but will be vulnerable on other grounds, nor does it include a handful of vulnerable Democrats (like Jerry McNerney of California and Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire) who voted “yes” but represent districts where the political effect is more of a wash.

Tier One — These 20 members are either freshmen or have faced strong challengers in recent elections. They should have already been expecting a tough battle in 2010, yet went ahead and voted to declare economic war on their constituents anyway. Several represent districts that voted for McCain last year; none went more than 57% for Obama.
Melissa Bean (Illinois-8)
John Boccieri (Ohio-16)
Leonard Boswell (Iowa-3)
Steve Driehaus (Ohio-1)
Alan Grayson (Florida-8)
Debbie Halvorson (Illinois-11)
Baron Hill (Indiana-9)
Steve Kagen (Wisconsin-8)
Paul Kanjorski (Pennsylvania-11)
Mary Jo Kilroy (Ohio-15)
Suzanne Kosmas (Florida-24)
Frank Kratovil (Maryland-1)
Betsy Markey (Colorado-4)
Scott Murphy (New York-20)
John Murtha (Pennsylvania-12)
Tom Perriello (Virginia-5)
Gary Peters (Michigan-9)
Mark Schauer (Michigan-7)
Zack Space (Ohio-18)
Harry Teague (New Mexico-2)

Tier Two — These 13 Democrats represent strongly Republican districts (only 4 voted for Obama, and none by more than 52%). They haven’t faced strong opponents in recent cycles, and probably haven’t been high on the NRCC’s target list, because they’ve managed to build a reputation as moderate-conservative Dems. But I suspect cap-and-tax will be very unpopular in these districts, and it might be just the thing to fuel the first serious challenges they’ve seen in years.
Rick Boucher (Virginia-9)
Allen Boyd (Florida-2)
Ben Chandler (Kentucky-6)
Bob Etheridge (North Carolina-2)
Bart Gordon (Tennessee-6)
Dennis Moore (Kansas-3)
Collin Peterson (Minnesota-7)
Heath Shuler (North Carolina-11)
Ike Skelton (Missouri-4)
Vic Snyder (Arkansas-2)
John Spratt (South Carolina-5)
Bart Stupak (Michigan-1)
Tim Walz (Minnesota-1)

Tier Three — These 19 are the longest shots, since they represent districts with a pretty strong Democratic lean and they generally haven’t faced serious challengers. Still, these are industrial or agriculture-heavy districts that would really take it on the chin from cap-and-tax. And, in only one of them did Barack Obama get more than the 62% he took in Mike Castle’s Delaware district. Just as Democrats used the Iraq war to knock off seemingly safe Republican incumbents, I think we should be on the lookout for the right candidates to make it a race with these Democrats based on their vote.
Sanford Bishop (Georgia-2)
Bruce Braley (Iowa-1)
Dennis Cardoza (California-18)
Russ Carnahan (Missouri-3)
Jim Cooper (Tennessee-5)
Henry Cuellar (Texas-28)
Gene Green (Texas-29)
Phil Hare (Illinois-17)
Brian Higgins (New York-27)
Marcy Kaptur (Ohio-9)
Dale Kildee (Michigan-5)
Dave Loebsack (Iowa-2)
Dan Maffei (New York-25)
Michael Michaud (Maine-2)
David Obey (Wisconsin-7)
James Oberstar (Minnesota-8)
Tim Ryan (Ohio-17)
Betty Sutton (Ohio-13)
John Yarmuth (Kentucky-3)

Remember, if Republicans had the majority, the 8 defectors wouldn’t matter because this terrible bill would never have seen the light of day. So let’s defeat the Cap-and-Tax 52 and get Nancy Pelosi a nice Minority Leader job.