There's been lots of talk lately about Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick's voting record. See, Walt's a Blue Dog Democrat who is making a name for himself among conservative circles and finding himself on the outside among progressive ones. Which brings us around to the voting record blitz.
First came Minnick's staff touting the times Minnick has voted with House Democrats on key issues. Then came a deeper look from The Political Game noting the times Minnick has voted against House Democrats. Then Randy Stapilus at Ridenbaugh Press highlighted an interesting academic review of the roll call votes taken in the U.S. House for the 111th Congress. The review conferred on Minnick the title of most conservative member, Democrat or Republican, of the Northwest delegation.
That's saying something. After all Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-WA, is a member of the House Republican leadership and has been sounding a lot like a birther lately. In January she was invited to speak at the Family Research Council's Blogs for Life. Yes, that Family Research Council.
Walt Minnick, according to the review, is more conservative than that.
In fact, the side-by-side comparison tool at Open Congress reveals that McMorris Rodgers votes with the Republican party 96 percent of the time and the Democrat Walt Minnick votes with her 75 percent of the time, while only voting with his party 64 percent.
How does Minnick's voting record stack up against the rest of neighboring states' Republicans? This chart lists each Republican representative from states bordering Idaho, how often they vote with their party and how often Minnick votes with them. [using Open Congress]
|Representative||Votes With Party||Votes With Minnick|
|Bishop, Rob (R, UT-1)||94%||71%|
|Chaffetz, Jason (R, UT-3)||92%||71%|
|Hastings, Doc (R, WA-4)||88%||65%|
|Heller, Dean (R, NV-2)||92%||80%|
|Lummis, Cynthia (R, WY-0)||91%||72%|
|McMorris Rodgers, Ca (R, WA-5)||96%||75%|
|Rehberg, Dennis (R, MT-0)||89%||70%|
|Reichert, Dave (R, WA-8)||79%||69%|
|Simpson, Mike (R, ID-2)||85%||68%|
|Walden, Greg (R, OR-2)||86%||75%|
In contrast, Jim Matheson of Utah is the neighboring state Democrat with the highest percentage of votes similar to Minnick at 69 percent. None of the others crack the 65 percent mark.
Minnick represents a conservative district but is it really that conservative? He was elected as a Democrat after all. And is Minnick doing himself any favors by voting so often with Republicans and apparently more conservatively than many? As David Neiwert wrote at Crooks and Liars yesterday:
But it also revealed, I think, the flaw in the kind of thinking employed by Blue Dogs like Minnick when confronted with tough issues like health care. Rather than represent the people who actually campaigned for them and put them into office, they kowtow to what are perceived to be the majority conservative sentiments in their district and vote the Republican line.
In other words, they're trying to solidify their positions by selling out the very people who elected them, while pursuing the votes of people who will never vote for them.
Swing State Project says Minnick is toast, that he won't return to the House in 2011. That may be a little strong; he is a fundraising machine, raising seven times the money of his closest Republican competitor so far.
The question at this point, though, may be why would Idaho Republicans bother trying to challenge Minnick?
Big hat tip to The Political Game for pointing me to the Open Congress comparison tool.