Obama’s Climate Change Win: Who Backed the President, Who Didn’t and Why

Yesterday evening, the House of Representatives passed an historic climate change bill which will reduce the level of greenhouse gases emitted in the U.S. over time by requiring polluting businesses to purchase credits to continue to pollute at current levels. Businesses who pollute less will be able to profit from selling the credits to businesses who aren’t willing to change their polluting ways.

The vote was close. 8 Republicans joined the Democratic leadership to pass the bill, while 44 Democrats joined Republicans in voting against the bill.

On close votes, casual observers of politics look to see which members bucked their party. That’s useful, but I think it’s smarter to look at Member’s vote here through the lense of last fall’s Presidential election.

The team at CQ makes that easy with their website showing Presidential voting patterns of these districts. CQ points out that President Barack Obama carried 34 House districts represented by Republicans. Similarly, Republican Sen. John McCain carried 49 districts represented by Democrats in the House.

President Obama carried the districts of  7 of the 8 Republicans who bucked their party and voted with the Democrats:

Mary Bono Mack, Mike Castle, Mark Kirk, Leonard Lance, Frank LoBiondo, John McHugh, Dave Reichert and Chris Smith. (McCain carried Chris Smith’s district with 52% of the vote, but Smith, who has a pretty strong  record on environmental issues,  voted with the Democrats.)

And now the for the 44 Democrats who voted with the Republicans. They are:

Jason Altmire, Michael Arcuri, John Barrow, Marion Berry, Dan Boren, Bobby Bright, Christopher Carney, Travis Childers, Jim Costa, Jerry Costello, Kathy Dahlkemper, Artur Davis, Lincoln Davis, Pete DeFazio, Joe Donnelly, Chet Edwards, Brad Ellsworth, Bill Foster, Parker Griffith, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, Tim Holden, Ann Kirkpatrick, Larry Kissell, Dennis Kucinich, Jim Marshall, Eric Massa, Jim Matheson, Mike McIntyre, Charlie Melancon, Walt Minnick,  Harry Mitchell,  Alan Mollohan, Glenn Nye, Solomon Ortiz, Earl Pomeroy, Nick Rahall, Ciro Rodriguez, Mike Ross,  John Salazar, Pete Stark,  John Tanner, Gene Taylor, Pete Visclosky and Charlie Wilson.

Sen. McCain carried all of these districts except for those represented by Mike Arcuri, Jim Costa, Jerry Costello, Artur Davis, Pete DeFazio, Joe Donnelly, Bill Foster, Larry Kissell, Dennis Kucinich, Glenn Nye, Solomon Ortiz, Ciro Rodriguez, Pete Stark and Pete Visclosky.

For Democrats looking for retribution against these 14, I’d give the following members a pass. They won election narrowly and President Obama narrowly carried their districts.

  • Mike Arcuri (N.Y.-24) won reelection with 52% of the vote, while Obama won the district with 50% of the vote.
  • Larry Kissell (N.C.-8) won election with 55% of the vote, while Obama carried the district with 52% of the vote. Kissell beat an entrenched self-funding Republican on his second try.
  • Glenn Nye (Va.-2) won election with 52% of the vote, while Obama narrowly won it with 50% of the vote. Nye needs to retain the support of independents and Republicans if he’s going to get re-elected. If you’re interested in learning more about his race, check out my previous blog posts on Rep. Nye.

But what about the other 11 Democrats who voted with the Republicans, despite representing districts which backed President Obama?

These 8 Members gave the White House and Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s team a heads up they would not be supporting the bill:

  • Artur Davis (Ala.-7) was unopposed and Obama won his district with 71% of the vote, but Davis is running for Governor and to be competitive statewide, he needs to tack substantially to the right on issues like this. I’m guessing the leadership gave him a pass.
  • Dennis Kucinich (Ohio-10) won reelection with 57% of the vote and Obama outperformed him with 59% of the vote. He said on the House floor that the bill was too friendly to the coal industry. (The West Virginia delegation disagrees with you, Congressman.)
  • Jerry Costello (Ill.-12)  won reelection with 71% of the vote. Obama carried the district with 56% of the vote. Costello voted against the bill, “because it does not provide a bridge for coal and other fossil fuels to develop and demonstrate new technologies to provide reliable energy and meet the necessary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”
  • Joe Donnelly (Ind.-2) won reelection with 67% of the vote. Obama carried his seat with 54% of the vote. He said he opposed the bill because he believed that, “climate change is real and should be addressed as part of a comprehensive reform of our national energy policy. At the same time, I could not support the cap-and-trade bill that passed today because it could put jobs at risk.”
  • Bill Foster (Ill.14) won reelection with 57%, while Obama carried it with 55% of the vote. He said he opposed the bill because he believes, “we have a responsibility to act in a way that comes with the lowest possible cost to the economy. A more thoughtful and measured bill could have mitigated significantly more greenhouse gas per dollar of expenditure.”
  • Pete Stark (Calif.-13) won reelection with 76% of the vote, while Obama won 74% in the district. Like Rep. Kucinich, Rep. Stark thinks the bill is too weak, particularly on the coal industry.
  • Pete DeFazio (Ore.-4) was unopposed for reelection. Obama carried his district with 54% of the vote. Rep. DeFazio told Bloomberg News, “I don’t know how you could be much more friendly than this bill to coal interests.”
  • Pete Visclosky (Ind.-1) won reelection with 70% of the vote, while Obama won 62% in the district. Rep. Visclosky thinks the bill is a job killer. The Congressman is tied up in the PMA lobbying scandal (earmarks-for-campaign-cash) which also involves Virginia Congressman Jim Moran. Nice.

What about the remaining three Congressmen? According to Politico, all three Congressmen promised to vote for the bill and flipped at the last minute.

As angry and disappointed as I am in those 11 Democrats who represent districts Obama carried, I am particularly proud of the following 20 Democrats who voted with President Obama depite representing districts Sen. McCain carried.

They are:

  • Vic Snyder (Ark.-2)
  • Gabrielle Giffords (Ariz.-8)
  • Betsy Markey (Colo.-4)
  • Allen Boyd (Fla.-2)
  • Suzanne Kosmas (Fla.-24)
  • Baron Hill (Ind.-9)
  • Ben Chandler (Ky.-6)
  • Frank Kratovil (Md.-1)
  • Collin Peterson (Minn.-7)
  • Ike Skelton (Mo.-4)
  • Heath Shuler (N.C.-11)
  • Harry Teague (N.M.-2)
  • Michael McMahon (N.Y.-13)
  • John Boccieri (Ohio-16)
  • Zach Space (Ohio-18)
  • John Murtha (Pa.-12)
  • John Spratt (S.C.-5)
  • Bart Gordon (Tenn.-6)
  • Tom Perriello (Va.-5)
  • Rick Boucher (Va.-9)

(I’m particularly proud of Virginia Congressmen Rick Boucher and Tom Perriello. Thank you both!)

Now for those 26 Republicans who represent districts Obama carried and STILL they voted with the GOP. These folks deserve our contempt and a credible Democratic opponent in 2010.

  • Dan Lungren (Ca.-3)
  • Elton Gallegy (Ca.-24)
  • Buck McKeon (Ca.-25)
  • David Drier (Calif.-26)
  • Ken Calvert (Calif.-44)
  • John Campbell (Calif.-48)
  • Brian Bilbray (Calif.-50)
  • C.W. Bill Young (Fla.-10)
  • Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.-18)
  • Peter Roskam (Ill.-6)
  • Judy Biggert (Ill.-13)
  • Donald Manzullo (Ill.-16)
  • Joseph Cao (La.-2)
  • Dave Camp (Mich.-4)
  • Fred Upton (Mich.-6)
  • Mike Rogers (Mich.-8)
  • Thad McCotter (Mich.-11)
  • Erik Paulsen (Minn.-3)
  • Lee Terry (Neb.-2)
  • Pat Tiberi (Ohio-12)
  • Jim Gerlach (Pa.-6)
  • Charlie Dent (Pa.-15)
  • Randy Forbes (Va.-4)
  • Frank Wolf (Va.-10)
  • Paul Ryan (Wisc.-1)
  • Tom Petri (Wisc.-6)

Virginians, did you notice Congressmen Randy Forbes and Frank Wolf on this list of GOP members who disregard their constituents? I sure did.

I hope that the more liberal members of my party remember that we have to be pragmatic, if we’re going to hold our majorities. That why we need to give Democrats who represent McCain districts a break. But at the same time, we need to find Democrats to run against Republicans like Forbes and Wolf, who routinely vote against the will of their constituents. In my view, it may make more sense to run centrist Democrats in these types of districts.



Filed under environment, House Democrats, House Republicans

7 responses to “Obama’s Climate Change Win: Who Backed the President, Who Didn’t and Why

  1. Chrisi

    I think this post was especially fabulous for breaking everything down realistically. I’m still annoyed with Nye for voting against the bill, and I’m willing to cut him some slack (especially since I don’t live in his district) as long as we can get some good candidates to run against Wolf and Forbes next time.

    Thanks for putting things into perspective. We need to prioritize who we against if we want to get things passed swiftly and effectively.

    Great post!

    • Thank you! I had to update it a few times, because I left out some members, but I think we need to do a deeper dive sometimes in looking at how a Member votes.

      I am glad you found it useful.

      I am disappointed, but I understand Rep. Nye’s caution. I hope he will be around for a long time.

  2. Lee Diamond

    Artur Davis is running for Governor of Alabama. That is a bit of an uphill struggle, to put it mildly.

  3. Chris B.

    Great post.

    I’m especially annoyed at Kucinich, here. I think it’s incredibly irresponsible to play these ideological games on a vote this close. Say it failed–what’s going to happen next? Is a *more liberal* bill going to take its place?

    Ah well, that’s the House for you. I guess they keep Kucinich, Paul, and Bachmann around for comic relief.

  4. Michele

    Elton Gallegly is my district and McCain won in our area.

  5. Chris

    President helped fund profiteers of carbon tax program he is now seeking to implement. While on the board of a Chicago-based charity, Barack Obama helped fund a carbon trading exchange that will likely play a critical role in the cap-and-trade carbon reduction program he is now trying to push through Congress as president.
    The charity was the Joyce Foundation on whose board of directors Obama served and which gave nearly $1.1 million in two separate grants that were “instrumental in developing and launching the privately-owned Chicago Climate Exchange, which now calls itself “North America’s only cap and trade system for all six greenhouse gases, with global affiliates and projects worldwide.”
    And that’s only the beginning. The “privately-owned” Chicago Climate Exchange is heavily influenced by Obama cohorts Al Gore and Maurice Strong. For years now Strong and Gore have been cashing in on that lucrative cottage industry known as man-made global warming.

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