Top of the ballot

It wasn’t that close after all – that’s the story after a drama-free roll call vote last night on the president’s healthcare bill. We had a good idea of how basically everyone would vote – except Reps. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) – and people stuck by their votes. The clear 219-212 margin with which Democrats passed the bill also allows their vulnerable members to avoid the “deciding vote” charge – which would have been in play if it passed with 216 votes. Republican have attempted to turn Rep. Betsy Markey (D-Colo.) into former Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky (D-Pa.), who was the deciding vote on President Clinton’s budget and paid the price for it in 1994, being voted out after one term. But Markey wasn’t the deciding vote, and neither was any other Democrat – at least that Republicans can prove. Republicans could still have a powerful argument on the issue, but the fact that Democrats were able to pad their margin, even a little bit, should save their members some trouble.

'Repeal it'

There was one common thread running through much of the GOP reaction to the vote last night: The call for repeal. Look for the GOP to continue to push this idea. While it remains to be seen how practical the idea is, it keeps the base fired up and keeps the issue front-of-mind. It also gives people incentive to vote in November. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said after the vote that Republicans would “challenge it every place we can.” Just about every GOP congressional challenger mentioned it in their press releases slamming the Democrats. The goal for the GOP is to keep the enthusiasm going.

Deal is out

Because the margin wasn’t that close, Rep. Nathan Deal’s (R-Ga.) decision to stay in Congress for a few more weeks didn’t really matter. Deal announced he would resign to run for governor, but amidst some pressure said he would stay through the healthcare vote. After the late night vote came up short for Republicans, Deal didn’t wait long to formally resign his seat. Georgia law calls for a nonpartisan special election, but this is one of the most conservative districts in the country. Indeed, in the neighboring 10th district, Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) was one of two Republicans in a runoff when he won his seat in a special election in 2007.