I just gave out the my first campaign contributions of this cycle -- to Tom Perriello, Vic Snyder, and Mary Jo Kilroy. All 3 are vulnerable Democrats from fairly conservative districts who voted for the stimulus bill, cap & trade, and health care reform.
You can see Nick's data on how much more liberal they are than their districts here. Kilroy is the 154th most liberal congresscritter, and she represents the 192nd most liberal district. In other words, she's moving her district 38 places left of where you'd expect it to be. Perriello has the 247th most liberal voting record in the 261st most liberal district. (I also like the fact that he co-founded a pretty awesome international human rights organization before going to Congress.) Both of the above two candidates are vulnerable first-term representatives, so they can't be expected to perform at Vic Snyder levels of heroism -- 117th most liberal in the 249th most liberal district.
Vic Snyder has long been my favorite congressman. Anyone from a swing district who's not only consistently liberal but voted against the war in 2002 is near-Godly. Also, he spent the 80s as a doctor in refugee camps, and lead the fight to repeal sodomy laws in Arkansas as a state legislator. Really terrific guy.
This is exactly the right donation strategy, I think.
I recently gave to Perriello and to Paul Hodes who is running for Senate in NH and looks like the most progressive plausible Senator to running to replace an R.
From Dylan's description, Vic Snyder also seems like a very worthwhile recipient.
Not quite sold on Kilroy yet - her running around 7% behind Obama in 2008 in an open seat (although the Libertarian candidate took 4%) suggests that she is, perhaps, not a terribly strong candidate for whatever reason. This is a particularly worrisome trend as she was only 1,000 votes from beating Republican incumbent Deborah Price in 2006.
Snyder and Perriello both voted Yes on the Stupak coathanger amendment. I donated to Perriello in 2008, but neither of them will get a penny from me in 2010, and both of their campaigns got emails last month explaining why.
Vic Snyder is my congressperson! I'll vote for him, Neil. Probably give him money, too.
By the way, I loved your review of New Moon. Hilarious.
I don't think that demanding a maximally pro-choice position from all Democratic Representatives is consistent with having a stable majority. Snyder and Parriello are in districts where it is hard to win without appearing moderate on social interests (unless you sell out to special interests to such a huge degree that you get lots of money or are such a pork machine that your constituents are willing to overlook significant policy disagreements).
Much as I like Pelosi, my impression is that House leadership has to take some of the blame for the Stupak vote for not coming up with a compromise earlier in the process that they could bring to a vote to give anti-abortion Dems cover to vote for the final bill or just by lining up enough votes beforehand to tell Stupak to take a hike. What they ended up doing put people like Snyder and Parriello in a bad position. In the end though, I think that we are going to have the Nelson compromise rather than Stupak in the final bill, so I don't think that this vote will end up being terribly significant in policy terms.
I would hardly call simply opposing Stupak a maximally pro-choice position. And no matter how much the situation was bungled by House leadership, folks who voted for it still have to own their votes.
A Democratic majority isn't a goal in and of itself, having a Democratic majority is supposed to be the means by which we accomplish Democratic legislative goals. When I donate to Democratic candidates, it's not because I'm trying to elect more votes for abortion restrictions, quite the opposite actually.
If the Republicans had passed something like Stupak in 2005, it would be cited as a big reason why we needed to elect Democrats in 2006. So what does it mean when Democrats pass it?
One thing that I think has to be kept in mind on Stupak is that the thing was pretty unlikely to survive conference committee. I'm sure some people in the House cast their votes knowing that the amendment wasn't going to make it to Obama's desk. We've still got conference committee ahead of us, but their calculation appears to be right.
Also, Parriello is a pretty serious Catholic - he is probably sincerely against federal funding for abortions. He is probably OK with something less exteme than Stupak, but as I wrote earlier, he got put in a position where he had a choice between Stupak and nothing (or perhaps Stupak and choas when House leadership can't find the votes to pass a bill that they thought they had the votes for.
The Democratic party is a coalition of disparate interests. In order to get stuff passed Congress, one has to make trade-offs. Scott and I might make these trade-offs differently. I think that compromise with pro-life Dems is worth it to get health care reform passed. I think that Stupak was a tactical screw up since a more reasonable compromise could have been made if this was handled earlier and will be made for the final bill. I'm just not inclined to think that Dems representing socially conservative areas should lose my support over this because it just isn't possible to get a progressive agenda enacted without the Parriello's and Snyder's of the world.
If, say, Jim Himes (CT-4) voted for Stupak, that would be a different matter.
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