House Republicans voting against tax package might have eye on 2012 races

At least eight of the 36 GOP "no" votes came from members thought to be running for the Senate or other higher office in two years, including Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.), a potential GOP presidential hopeful. Check out the full roll call here.

Also voting against the compromise, which passed the House overwhelmingly Thursday, were Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), Connie Mack (R-Fla.), Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.).

Chaffetz is making noise about challenging Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) in a GOP primary in 2012. Hatch voted for the package in Wednesday's 81-19 Senate vote.

The votes against the measure, which is now headed to the president's desk, will likely be a positive with Tea Party activists and could help in a GOP primary.

Rehberg, Mack, Bachmann and Hoekstra are all mentioned as potential Senate candidates in 2012. Incumbent Democratic Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) all supported the package.

Though Republican leaders in the House and Senate supported the package, some conservatives have derided the compromise, taking issue with the way in which the extension of unemployment insurance benefits will be paid for. Conservatives who have wanted to eliminate the estate tax have also raised objections to that part of the deal.

Two other members who have been urged to run for the Senate by some Republicans in their home states — Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) — also voted against the compromise Thursday. But Jordan has all but ruled out a run against Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in 2012, and Fortenberry has shown little public interest so far in challenging Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).

One other interesting note: Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) voted for the tax deal in the House, breaking with Sen. John Ensign (Nev.), who was one of the few Republicans to vote against the compromise in the Senate.

Heller is a rumored Senate contender in 2012, and many think he's likely to run regardless of whether the scandal-plagued Ensign decides to seek another term.

Despite the uproar on the left over the deal, it passed the House with ease Thursday by a vote of 277-148, winning the votes of 139 House Democrats.

This story was updated at 9:03 a.m.

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