The roll call votes of Senate Democrats voting in favor of the tax deal hammered out by the GOP and Barack Obama reads like a Who’s Who of the 2012 election cycle. Jon Tester (MT), Sherrod Brown (OH), Claire McCaskill, Bob Casey (PA), and Mark Pryor (AR) all voted to keep tax rates at their current level, opposing 14 of their colleagues as well as five Republicans to pass the bill. Some, like Sherrod Brown, insisted that he didn’t cast his vote for the tax rates as much as he did for extending the federal unemployment, but Politico notices that the pattern seems a little too clear to ignore:
In 2006 ten freshmen Democrats marched into the Senate, propelled by a wave of popular outrage at the Bush administration.
Fast forward four years.
Nine members of the same class voted Wednesday to extend the signature policy of the very administration they once vowed to take on, joining 24 fellow Democrats up for reelection this cycle in supporting the measure, which passed easily 81 to 19. Democratic first-termers from states where Republicans made major gains last month, including Sens. Claire McCaskill, Jon Tester, Jim Webb, and Sherrod Brown, voted in favor of the package.
It’s a stark change from the 2006 cycle, and a signal of how 2012 Democrats hope to avoid the same shellacking their party endured this November, after Republican campaigns slammed them for the liberal policies passed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Jon Tester didn’t shy away from the tax issue. After heading home to deeply conservative Montana to mull over his choice, he came back to Washington DC to stop “the biggest tax raise in history.” Jim Webb, looking over his shoulder at George Allen’s preparations to run for his old seat in 2012, was the first Democrat to announce that he would oppose the tax increase. Ben Nelson (NE) was a no-brainer; he got himself in hot water over his vote for ObamaCare with Nebraska voters and needs to climb out of the soup pot. Bill Nelson (FL) may have been a little more of a surprise, but not if you consider how his state voted in the midterms, tossing Democrats out of office almost across the board.
Considering just how sharply most of these at-risk Democrats turned after the midterms, it appears that at least some of them got the message. Then again, some others obviously haven’t:
More than a half-dozen defeated House Democrats are considering running again for the seats they lost in the November elections.
Some members — including Reps. Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire, Phil Hare of Illinois, Dina Titus of Nevada, Frank Kratovil Jr. of Maryland, Alan Mollohan of West Virginia and Glenn Nye of Virginia — have said publicly that they are mulling over rematches. Others have been more private in their deliberations or more measured in discussing their intentions.
“I’m open to it,” said Ohio Rep. Steve Driehaus, who lost a rematch against Republican former Rep. Steve Chabot, before adding, “I’m an elected official.”
Alabama Rep. Bobby Bright, a conservative Democrat who lost to Republican Martha Roby, said he had given “quite a bit” of thought to running for his seat again.
A few of these outgoing Democrats got defeated by former incumbents, so it’s not exactly unprecedented. However, given the pounding most of these took and some of the public statements made that led to their defeats — especially Phil “Who Cares About A Dusty Old Constitution” Hare — they’ll likely just serve up a Wave II election. In fact, if Republicans had their way, they would fight 2012 on the same battle lines as 2010 — on tax hikes, overreaching government, and Democrats who don’t listen to their constituents. So far, thanks to the tax deal, we’re solid on the first pillar as the tax deal expires at the end of 2012, and if enough of this midterm’s losers come back for another round, we’ll be solid on the other two pillars as well.