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Congress: The End of the Middle Congress: The End of the Middle

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Congress: The End of the Middle

 

photo of Julia Edwards
March 1, 2011

National Journal's vote ratings reveal a sharp divide between red voting on the right and blue voting on the left. Only 10 lawmakers have voting records that overlap with the opposing party, and they're all in the House. Eight of the 10 moderates lost their seats in November. We take a look at the fading embers of a centrist era gone by.

OUT: Rep. Joseph Cao, R-La.

 

Cao, who represented New Orleans, had the most liberal voting record of all House Republicans last year. Despite that, and although he called himself a friend of President Obama's, he lost his seat to Democrat Cedric Richmond. 

OUT: Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Ga.

 

Marshall, who represented much of rural Georgia, lost his seat to Republican Austin Scott.

OUT: Rep. Charles Djou, R-Hawaii.

 

Djou was only the third Republican Hawaii ever sent to Washington. He won the seat in a special election in May 2010 and lost it in November to Democrat Colleen Hanabusa.

OUT: Rep. Michael Castle, R-Del.

 

Castle--the longest-serving House member in Delaware's history--gave up his seat in the lower chamber for a Senate run. He lost in the primary to tea party-backed candidate Christine O'Donnell, which sent shock waves through the GOP and was a signal to the Republican leadership to shift further right.

OUT: Rep. Travis Childers, D-Miss.

 

Childers, a member of the Democrats' Blue Dog coalition, was defeated by Republican Alan Nunnelee.

OUT: Rep. Vern Ehlers, R-Mich.

 

Ehlers represented Grand Rapids, Michigan since 1993. He retired before the 2010 election and was succeeded by another Republican, the 31-year-old tea party-backed Rep. Justin Amash.

IN: Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C.

 

Jones is one of two centrist GOP representatives who still holds his seat. He is known for his transparent change of heart on the war in Iraq. He insisted that french fries served in the House cafeteria be renamed "freedom fries" to protest the lack of French support in Iraq; but he later called on President Bush to set a timetable for a U.S. exit from the country.

OUT: Rep. Bobby Bright, D-Ala.

 

Bright was the first Democrat to represent Alabama's 2nd Congressional District since 1964. He held the office for only one term before being defeated by Republican Martha Roby.

IN: Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa.

Dent succeeded Pat Toomey in the House in 2004 after Toomey decided to run for the Senate and has racked up a far more centrist voting record. Dent produced more earmarks for local projects and supported stem-cell research. Although his district has favored Democrats, he managed to defeat challenger John Callahan.

OUT: Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss.

 

Although Taylor was the most conservative Democrat in the 111th Congress, he lost his seat after 10 terms to Republican Steven Palazzo.

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