A handful of conservative Blue Dog Democrats from tough districts defected to vote for people other than House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to be Speaker of the House on Thursday.
Reps. John Barrow (D-Ga.), Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) all voted for others rather than Pelosi. All but Lipinski are Blue Dogs from heavily Republican districts, and none of the five backed Pelosi in 2010.
The number of Democrats who defected from voting for Pelosi for Speaker was much lower than it was two years ago, mostly because many conservative Democrats lost or retired since then but partly because five who'd backed others in 2010 switched to support her this time around.
Some of the Democrats from the reddest districts continued to back others, a sign that they're continuing to look for chances to break with their leadership heading into what could be another tough election.
Besides Lipinski, these Democrats are often GOP targets, and Barrow and McIntyre could have especially tough races this year because they were bolstered somewhat by high African-American turnout in 2012 that might not be there with President Obama not on the ballot. The vote gave them a public chance to show their independence from House Democratic leadership — and they took it.