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September 30, 2008

Endangered Members Vote No Bailout

Pick a member of Congress facing a tough race this November and the odds are they voted against the economic stability package yesterday.

In a few cases, voting in favor of the bailout package will be a political positive. Connecticut Republican Christopher Shays, who represents Greenwich and other wealthy enclaves outside New York, voted in favor of the measure. So did Illinois Rep. Mark Kirk, whose constituents, just north of Chicago, are wealthier than average.

Pennsylvania Rep. Paul Kanjorski, one of the most vulnerable Democrats in Congress, voted in favor of the bill as well, though as chairman of the Financial Services subcommittee that oversees capital markets and the number two Democrat on the committee as a whole it would have looked terrible if he didn't.

In most other cases, those with a political consideration voted against the measure. All four members of Congress who are seeking a promotion this year -- Reps. Tom Udall, Mark Udall and Steve Pearce running for Senate and Rep. Kenny Hulshof running for governor -- voted no.

Nineteen of the 34 Frontline Democrats opposed the bill, including thirteen of the eighteen who face truly challenging competition this Fall. Meanwhile, just three of the 24 members of the Regain Our Majority Program, the GOP's list of endangered incumbents, voted for the bill.

Instead of vulnerable members, Republicans turned to retirees to find the votes. Eighteen of the 23 Republicans not seeking re-election this year voted in favor of the bill, while one abstained.

Even as members got phone calls at ratios of 100- or 200-1 against the bailout package, a few vulnerable incumbents still voted yes. Thanks to those votes, Nevada Republican Jon Porter, Florida Democrat Tim Mahoney and Georgia Democrat Jim Marshall may all find themselves bearing the brunt of anti-bailout attacks.

Political strategists told The Scorecard they're already preparing to hit opponents who voted yes on the bill, though they wouldn't describe those attacks for strategic reasons.