As their whip efforts narrow to just a handful of Members, House Democratic leaders are facing an unlikely problem vote: Rep. Loretta Sanchez.
Sanchez was nowhere to be found on Saturday — she was in Florida on a fundraising jaunt, two Democratic sources said — and while leaders expected her to return for the Sunday vote on final passage, they weren’t assured. What’s more, leaders now list the Orange County Democrat as a “no” vote.
Sanchez this week told the Orange County Register that she needs to be satisfied that the health care overhaul is affordable. “The Senate bill is a bad bill,” she told the paper.
Politically, the vote should be a relatively easy lift for Sanchez. The seven-term lawmaker has been re-elected with at least 60 percent of the vote since 2000, winning by a decisive 69 percent in 2008. President Barack Obama carried the district by 60 percent.
Sanchez voted “yes” last time. She faces a well-funded GOP challenger, Van Tran, in the 2010 election. Although Obama carried her district by 60%, Schwarzenegger won it in 2006 as did Bush in 2004. It has a growing Vietnamese community, which Tran hopes to capitalize on. “They come out and vote in large numbers, and they’re 2-to-1 Republican,” he told the Associated Press.
This makes Nancy Pelosi’s job considerably harder. Sanchez’s jump could be a sign that there are members who have been quiet about their positions and hoping they’d never have to take the vote. But with the fear of tough elections ahead looming large, more could follow her lead. I know there’s a tendency to look at these votes as carved in stone once members commit publicly, but I fully remember what happened to Ciro Rodriguez during the Cap and Trade vote:
During the vote, Washington Rep. Jay Inslee, one of the taller members of the House, guarded the doors on the floor leading out to the Speaker’s Lobby, warning members not to leave the floor in case anyone needed to switch his or her vote. But that didn’t stop some Democrats, like Colorado Rep. John Salazar, from voting no early and sneaking out to avoid getting pressured by party leaders.
Leadership aides say Texas Rep. Ciro Rodriguez promised Pelosi he’d vote yes, but voted no and sprinted from the chamber. California Rep. Xavier Becerra tried unsuccessfully to flag him on his cell phone — and Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) bounded into the ornate Speaker’s Lobby off the floor shouting, “Rodriguez! Rodriguez!” as puzzled reporters looked on.
Of course Lloyd Doggett, who made an impassioned speech swearing to vote against the bill that very morning, ultimately voted yes. So that works both ways.
Nye moves out of the “undecided” category, and Loretta Sanchez makes her first appearance on the chart. That bumps the total to 209 no, 204 yes.
|Definite No (31):|
|Potential No-Yes Flips (3):|
|Potential Yes-No Flips (6):|
|Stupak Block (10):|