Congress: The End of the Middle

WASHINGTON - MARCH 18: House Financial Services Committee member Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) listens to testimony during a hearing about the American International Group on Capitol Hill March 18, 2009 in Washington, DC. Hired after AIG accepted billions of dollars in aid from the federal government, Chairman and CEO Edward Liddy faced intense scrutiny from members of Congress over $165 million in bonuses paid to employees of the insurance giant. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Julia Edwards
March 1, 2011, 7:23 a.m.

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.

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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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