Most of the focus in recent weeks has been on the two Senators from Maine who voted for a jobless benefits bill in the Senate, but in the House yesterday, 31 Repblicans broke ranks on that legislation.
The list of switchers from both parties was a varied one, so let’s look for some election year clues.
First, we will start with the ten Democrats who voted against the bill. Some were very easy to understand, more conservative Southern Democrats like Bright of Alabama, Berry of Arkansas, Cooper of Tennessee, Minnich of Idaho, McIntyre and Shuler of North Carolina.
Then you had those in tough races, like Rep. Baron Hill, running for Senate in Indiana, Rep. Betty Markey of Colorado and Rep. Glenn Nye of Virginia.
The one odd vote, Rep. Brian Baird of Washington State – he isn’t even running for re-election.
Over on the GOP side, there were 31 Republicans who voted for the extension of jobless benefits, 17% of the Republican caucus.
“31 RINOs!” wrote one of my listeners from Facebook.
But is it that simple? Maybe not.
There were very conservative Republicans like Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) who voted for the jobless benefits bill. Posey was one of six GOP switchers from Florida, the most Republicans of any state to vote for the plan.
The others from Florida included Reps. Bilirakis, the Diaz-Balart brothers, Ros-Lehtinen and CW “Bill” Young.
The next 25 Republicans included a good dose of Midwesterners, their states hit hard by the deep recession. There were three from Michigan – Rogers, Upton and McCotter – and two from Ohio, Turner and LaTourette.
Ohio Rep. Mike Turner is an interesting one, because his seat in the Miami Valley around Dayton is one that Democrats would love to get back, but they had trouble fielding a candidate this year.
More ‘Yes’ votes came from industrial state lawmakers who have tough economies, like Platts, Gerlach and Murphy of Pennsylvania, Capito of West Virginia, Johnson of Illinois, Whitfield of Kentucky and Petri of Wisconsin.
Other interesting ‘No’ votes came from Chris Smith and Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey, Rep. Mary Bono Mack and Rep. Brian Bilbray of California, and Walter Jones of North Carolina.
Jones is nothing like his father, who was a veteran Democratic Congressman, but that’s a blog for another time.