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Jewish World Review
Oct. 3, 2008
/ 4 Tishrei 5769
House Members Vote for Job Security Their Own: Out of 435, seven profiles in courage
John H. Fund
The House vote rejecting the financial rescue package wasn't so much a partisan vote as one that divided members who have safe seats from members who face potentially competitive elections on November 4.
Of the 205 members who wound up voting for the bill, only seven four Democrats and three Republicans can be said to come from districts where they face a tough race. By contrast, of the 31 members retiring this year, all but five supported the package. Indeed, nearly a third of the 65 House Republicans who backed the bailout are leaving office in just a few weeks. They faced no political consequences from their votes.
A lot of political firepower will now be focused back home on the seven vulnerable members of either party who voted for the unpopular bailout. "I anticipate a flood of money accusing them of selling out their constituents to deliver early Christmas presents to bankers and fatcats," one worried K Street lobbyist in Washington told me.
The three Republicans are Christopher Shays of Connecticut, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Jon Porter of Nevada. Of the trio, Messrs. Shays and Kirk represent upper-income districts filled with savvy investors who may appreciate rather than revile their vote. Mr. Porter, on the other hand, represents fast-growing Las Vegas suburbs filled with people who likely know little about him and who soon will be deluged with ads attacking him for his vote.
The four Democrats who stuck their necks out are Jerry McNerney of California, Tim Mahoney of Florida, Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania and Jim Marshall of Georgia. Mr. Kanjorski is already in hot political water over earmarks that benefited his family. Mr. Marshall won election by only a single percentage point last year in a highly populist area. Both Mr. Mahoney and Mr. McNerney represent usually Republican seats captured in surprising upsets last year. All four have now put their political careers at risk.
Once again, the old political adage holds that where a politician stands depends on where he sits. If a legislator occupies a safe seat, there's a good chance he or she voted for the bailout bill. Indeed, except for the vulnerable seven, the Congressional leadership clearly laid a goose egg when it came to rounding up votes among politically vulnerable members.
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JWR contributor John H. Fund is author, most recently, of "Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)
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© 2006, John H. Fund