For many members, another tough vote

For the second time this cycle, a controversial yet major piece of Democratic legislation passed by a 219-212 margin. And like the last time, it’s left plenty of the “yes” voters looking over their shoulders.

The healthcare bill survived by the exact same margin by which the House passed its climate change bill in June, and the two votes stand as the most divisive major bills the House has passed. Along with the stimulus package, they loom as a trifecta of votes the GOP plans to use leading up to November.

But not all votes are created equal. The healthcare vote will be fresher in people’s minds, and that could pose problems for these members, in particular:

The switchers

“I voted for it before I voted against it” will reign for years as an example of how hard it is to explain changing your vote.

Eight Democrats went from “no” on the House healthcare bill in November to “yes” on the Senate bill on Sunday, and they included five potentially vulnerable members: Reps. John Boccieri (Ohio), Suzanne Kosmas (Fla.), Allen Boyd (Fla.), Scott Murphy (N.Y.) and Betsy Markey (Colo.).

“My gut [feeling] is that members who switched are the ones that put themselves most at risk,” former National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Tom Davis (R-Va.) said. “That doesn’t mean they’ll lose. It just means it’s a tougher explanation.”

Boccieri was the most full-throated supporter of the bill, but Republicans say that only makes him that much more vulnerable. Kosmas and Markey were already top targets, and the GOP hopes Boyd and Murphy have earned themselves difficult Novembers as well.

The crowd-pleasers

Several members had two distinct groups to assuage — their swing or conservative-leaning constituents, and their party.

Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) faces a moneyed primary challenger in the form of Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O’Brien, and if he survives that, he’s one of the most endangered incumbents in the general election. In the end, his yes vote risks irritating his district at large while helping him in the primary.

In announcing his vote, the 13-termer said it was among the most difficult he has cast.

Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.) faced perhaps the biggest balancing act. He is now the pick of party leaders to run for Senate. And after pioneering the anti-abortion language in the first bill, he announced his support for this bill even before Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) negotiated concessions on the issue.

The Mezvinskys

Republicans have made a fun play out of tagging Markey with an additional surname — Mezvinsky. The reference is to former Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky (D-Pa.), who was kicked out of office in 1994 after one term for being the deciding vote on President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonTrump, taxpayers want Title X funding protected from abortion clinics President Trump’s historic rescissions package is a welcome step to cut wasteful spending America will be stronger with our immigration policy based on facts MORE’s budget bill.

Markey may well pay the price for her yes vote, but several others could have an even better claim on that surname. In fact, more than a dozen districts held by “yes” voters were bigger McCain districts in 2008 than Markey’s Fort Collins-based spread.

Two West Virginians — Reps. Alan Mollohan and Nick RahallNick Joe RahallWe shouldn't allow politics to impede disaster relief Break the cycle of partisanship with infant, child health care programs Clinton mulls role in 2018 midterms MORE — both saw their districts go at least 56 percent for Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump's plan to claw back spending hits wall in Congress Defense bill moves forward with lawmakers thinking about McCain How House Republicans scrambled the Russia probe MORE (R-Ariz.) in 2008, while Reps. EarlPomeroy (N.D.), Chris Carney (Pa.) and Ann KirkpatrickAnn KirkpatrickGold Star father attacked by Trump steps up role in Dem primaries House Dems highlight promising new candidates Vulnerable House incumbents build up war chests MORE (Ariz.) all come from districts where McCain won by at least eight points.

Former Rep. Martin Frost (D-Texas), a one-time chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), said many members will need to spend time explaining their votes.

“I don’t know that you can single out too many members, because there are quite a few who come from marginal districts who voted yes,” Frost said.

The latecomers

The longer a member labors over his or her decision, the more he or she tends to fear the consequences. Just two vulnerable members went into the vote Sunday without giving an indication about their votes — Reps. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.).

Boucher, who voted no, is an emerging GOP target. But, if anything, Sanchez’s outlook appears to have improved slightly in recent months. Her dithering before voting yes, though, suggests she’s at least a little bit concerned about state Assemblyman Van Tran (R).

Sanchez said it was “probably” the most difficult vote she has ever cast, but that phone calls from the uninsured prevailed on her.

Many of those declaring late were holding out for abortion changes, including Reps. Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyVoters Dems need aren't impressed by anti-waterboarding showboating Overnight Defense: Senate confirms Haspel as CIA chief | Trump offers Kim 'protections' if he gives up nukes | Dem amendments target Trump military parade Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers MORE (D-Ind.), Rahall and Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Pa.). But other yes votes who waited until the weekend came away looking a little timid, including Reps. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), Ron Klein (D-Fla.), Bill Owens (D-N.Y.), Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and David Wu (D-Ore.).

The ‘no’s

We generally look at the “no”s as having gotten a pass. But that isn’t always the case.

New York Reps. Michael Arcuri and Mike McMahon, perhaps more than any other Democrats, stirred up problems on their left with their “no” votes. Labor groups and the Working Families Party are setting up third-party challenges, and as we’ve seen recently in New York, such threats should be taken seriously.

Look for the left to focus on making an example of one or the other.

Reps. Zack Space (D-Ohio) and Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) also look as though they could be facing some problems with labor, and Reps. Glenn Nye (D-Va.) and John BarrowJohn Jenkins BarrowOur democracy can’t afford to cut legal aid services from the budget Dem files Ethics complaint on Benghazi panel Barrow thanks staff in farewell speech MORE (D-Ga.) could turn off significant black populations in their districts by voting against President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe true commander in tweet Meghan Markle's pre-royal 'finishing lessons' and an etiquette of equality Hannity on Acosta claim he was tough on Obama: 'Only thing missing were the pom-poms' MORE.

Vulnerable dems


Adler (N.J.-3) Y Y N
Altmire (Pa.-4) Y N N
Arcuri (N.Y.-24) Y N N
T. Bishop (N.Y.-1) Y Y Y
Boccieri (Ohio-16) Y Y Y
Boswell (Iowa-3) Y Y Y
Boucher (Va.-9) Y Y N
Bright (Ala.-2) N N N
Carney (Pa.-10) Y N Y
Childers (Miss.-1) Y N N
Dahlkemper (Pa.-3) Y N Y
Driehaus (Ohio-1) Y Y Y
C. Edwards (Texas-17) Y N N
Foster (Ill.-14) Y N Y
Giffords (Ariz.-8) Y Y Y
Grayson (Fla.-8) Y Y Y
Hall (N.Y.-19) Y Y Y
Herseth Sandlin (S.D.-AL) Y N N
Hill (Ind.-9) Y Y Y
Kagen (Wis.-8) Y Y Y
Kanjorski (Pa.-11) Y Y Y
Kilroy (Ohio-15) Y Y Y
Kissell (N.C.-8) Y N N
Kosmas (Fla.-24) Y Y Y
Kratovil (Md.-1) Y Y N
Markey (Colo.-4) Y Y Y
McNerney (Calif.-11) Y Y Y
Minnick (Idaho-1) N N N
Mitchell (Ariz.-5) Y N Y
Mollohan (W.Va.-1) Y N Y
P. Murphy (Pa.-8) Y Y Y
Nye (Va.-2) Y N N
Owens (N.Y.-23) n/a n/a/ Y
Perriello (Va.-5) Y Y Y
Pomeroy (N.D.-AL) Y N Y
Schauer (Mich.-7) Y Y Y
Shea-Porter (N.H.-1) Y Y Y
Shuler (N.C.-11) N Y N
Space (Ohio-18) Y Y N
Spratt (S.C.-5) Y Y Y
Teague (N.M.-2) Y Y N
Titus (Nev.-3) Y Y Y