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Fwd: What You Heard About ‘Conservative Democrats’ Winning Was Wrong

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  • Greg Cannon
    ... http://rothenbergpoliticalreport.blogspot.com/2006/11/what-you-heard-about-conservative.html
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 21, 2006
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      --- FeedBlitz <feedblitz@...> wrote:

      > Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2006 04:18:24 -0500
      > Subject: The Rothenberg Political Report - What You
      > Heard About ‘Conservative Democrats’ Winning Was
      > Wrong
      > ** "The Rothenberg Political Report" - 1 new article
      > - http://rothenbergpoliticalreport.blogspot.com
      >
      > * What You Heard About ‘Conservative Democrats’
      > Winning Was Wrong -
      >
      http://rothenbergpoliticalreport.blogspot.com/2006/11/what-you-heard-about-conservative.html
      >
      > By Stuart Rothenberg
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > It quickly has become conventional wisdom that last
      > week’s Democratic House victory swept in a crop of
      > moderate and conservative Democrats who’ll both
      > keep party liberals in check and help remake the
      > image of the party of former Vice President Al Gore,
      > Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and soon-to-be Speaker
      > Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Well, I met dozens of Democrats running in 2006 -
      > no, not everyone, but most of them - and I can’t
      > find much more than a couple who merit the label
      > "conservative." That’s not meant to be either
      > criticism or praise. It’s merely a statement of
      > fact.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > North Carolina Rep.-elect Heath Shuler surely
      > qualifies as a culturally conservative Democrat, but
      > the pro-life, pro-gun Democrat who is a member of
      > the Fellowship of Christian Athletes is the
      > exception, not the rule. Virtually all of the
      > Democrats I interviewed were pro-choice, favored
      > rolling back President Bush’s tax cuts and sounded
      > traditional Democratic themes on education, the
      > environment and foreign policy.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > In Connecticut, Reps.-elect Chris Murphy and Joe
      > Courtney are pretty typical Northern liberals. In
      > New York, Rep.-elect John Hall, who I didn’t meet,
      > appears to be quite left of center. Two upstate
      > Democrats, Reps.-elect Kirsten Gillibrand and
      > Michael Arcuri, have more moderate personas, but I
      > wouldn’t go so far as to call them conservatives,
      > or even moderates.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Arcuri often referred to himself as a "Boehlert
      > Democrat," a label that won’t make conservatives
      > who cringed at the voting record of retiring Rep.
      > Sherwood Boehlert (R) the least bit comfortable.
      > Gillibrand, who is impossible not to like, didn’t
      > sound like a liberal firebrand, but I’d be
      > surprised if her record was much different from that
      > of most Northeast Democrats.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > In Pennsylvania, there is no reason to believe that
      > Reps.-elect Patrick Murphy and Joe Sestak will be
      > anything but typical suburban Philadelphia
      > Democrats: If you are a liberal, you’ll like them,
      > and if you aren’t, you probably won’t.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > In Florida, Rep.-elect Ron Klein’s state
      > legislative voting record seems consistent with a
      > liberal Democrat, and while some observers have
      > pointed out that Rep.-elect Tim Mahoney talked a
      > moderate line during his campaign and is a former
      > Republican, my notes from my interview with him show
      > that he has not supported a Republican presidential
      > nominee for more than 20 years and seems likely to
      > vote along traditional Democratic lines.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Texas Rep.-elect Nick Lampson may have to vote like
      > a moderate or conservative if he has any hope of
      > winning re-election in Texas’ 22nd district in two
      > years, but his record when he was in Congress was
      > not what one normally would identify as
      > conservative, or even moderate.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > My interview with California Rep.-elect Jerry
      > McNerney suggests he’s quite liberal. The same
      > goes for Rep.-elect Steve Kagen in Wisconsin. I
      > didn’t interview Iowa’s newly elected Member,
      > Dave Loebsack, but his profile — he’s a
      > political science professor at Cornell College and
      > ran against middle-of-the-road GOP Rep. Jim Leach
      > from the left — suggests he’s no moderate.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > In Ohio, Rep.-elect Charlie Wilson is conservative
      > on cultural issues, so that makes him a relatively
      > moderate Democrat. But fellow Buckeye State
      > Rep.-elect Betty Sutton certainly isn’t a
      > moderate, and although I didn’t meet Rep.-elect
      > Zack Space, I am told by people who did that his
      > views seem fairly liberal.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > I wrote after the previous cycle that I liked
      > Indiana Democrat Joe Donnelly and hoped he’d run
      > again, but I’d never call him a conservative
      > Democrat. On the other hand, Rep.-elect Brad
      > Ellsworth told me that he is pro-life, supports a
      > constitutional amendment defining marriage and
      > supports capital punishment, so he does appear to be
      > a moderate Democrat.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Then there is Rep.-elect Baron Hill, who, if you ask
      > him, probably will call himself a moderate Democrat.
      > The only problem is that voters in Indiana’s 9th
      > district fired him two years ago because they
      > thought he was a cultural liberal who tried to have
      > issues both ways.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > I’ve never met Rep.-elect John Yarmuth, who
      > knocked off Rep. Anne Northup (R-Ky.) and has a
      > reputation for being both very personable and very
      > liberal. Kansas Rep.-elect Nancy Boyda is
      > pro-choice, and as far as I can tell, there is no
      > reason to see her as a moderate.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Kentucky Democrat Ken Lucas would have been a
      > conservative Democrat, but he lost. Florida’s
      > Christine Jennings, a bank president, might have
      > been moderate on business issues, but she apparently
      > lost narrowly.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Colorado Rep.-elect Ed Perlmutter? Liberal. Iowa
      > Rep.-elect Bruce Braley? Very liberal. Arizona
      > Rep.-elect Gabrielle Giffords? Liberal, I think.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Now let me be very clear about my point. I’m not
      > saying that it’s good or bad that most of these
      > Democrats are likely to be pretty typical members of
      > their party. I’m only saying that’s where they
      > fit. A bunch of conservative Democrats didn’t win
      > election last week.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > So how and why did the buzz get going that the
      > Democrats elected last Tuesday foreshadow a
      > different Democratic Party? I’m not sure.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Part of it may have been all the hype about
      > Democrats "broadening the playing field" and
      > possibly taking very Republican seats in Idaho,
      > Nebraska, Colorado, Washington, Wyoming and Indiana.
      > That didn’t happen, though in some cases the
      > Democrats running for those seats performed well
      > above what would be expected for their party.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Though there were obvious exceptions, most of the
      > House takeovers occurred in swing and
      > Democratic-leaning districts, and those districts
      > elected pretty conventional Democrats.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > The election of Bob Casey Jr. (Pa.) to the Senate
      > may have added to the impression that Democrats were
      > sending moderates and conservatives to Washington,
      > D.C. But again, Casey - who opposes legal abortion -
      > is the exception, not the rule.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > House Democrats way well attempt to steer a more
      > moderate path between now and 2008, especially since
      > their opportunities are limited with Bush in the
      > White House. But if that happens, it would be the
      > result of a pragmatic decision by party leaders, not
      > the result of an infusion of moderates and
      > conservatives into their party last week.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > This column
      > first appeared in
      > Roll Call
      > on November 16, 2006.
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