MSM Picks up on House GOP Rift

 

UPDATE: The Smoking Ban has passed both the House and the Senate. The final tally in the House: 60-39. Since two Dems and two Indies voted against the bill, that means that the final tally for the “Liberty Caucus” of the House GOP is 35. Looks like they picked up three members from the first vote. 

UPDATE 2: Looks like I was wrong. From the comments bellow:

It looks to me as if actually 6 Democrats in the House voted against the conference report: Hall, Shuler, Nichols, Pollard, O. Ware, and Lewis. Along with the 2 Independents, this means that 31 Republicans in the House voted against the conference report.
Voting in favor of the conference report were 21 Republicans and 39 Democrats.

One Republican (Crockett-Stark) was absent today.

Thanks David. I’ll try to put up a more full bodied analysis of the vote later. 

Roughly a week after I first blogged about how the numbers on the smoking ban didn’t shake out to put Speaker Howell’s leadership in a favorable light, the Washington Post has picked up on the same rumblings:

House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith’s dissent provided a glimpse of what some Republicans describe as a long-simmering divide within their caucus. The tensions have worsened as Republicans have debated how to maintain their majority in a state that has been trending from red to blue.

Many delegates say they are frustrated that Howell negotiated a deal for a ban they oppose philosophically and handed a victory to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who had made a smoking ban a priority for years.

“I’m disappointed in him,” Del. Thomas D. Gear (R-Hampton) said.

Some are privately questioning Howell’s leadership but said they might wait until after November, when all 100 House seats are up for election, before deciding whether to start searching for a new speaker.

Howell shows the typical squeamishness of someone worried about his own election prospects while foolishly abandoning principle to find a winning issue for his “team:”

“I don’t worry about it one bit, not one bit,” Howell said in an interview. “I’ve had this job for seven years, and I’ve been through some pretty difficult times.”

Howell said that if delegates want to vote for a new speaker next year, they should feel free to do so. But he defends his decision to deal with Kaine and the Democratic-controlled Senate, saying that it was right for the state and that two-thirds of his leadership team agreed.

That’s all very well and good, to do the “right thing,” but here’s the problem. Number one, the numbers don’t hold up. If you look at the House GOP leadership as the Committee chairs, the people who owe their power to the Speaker, plus the leadership team, only 9 of them sided with the Speaker, versus 8 who bolted. Number two, your caucus feels betrayed on a fundamental issue underlying the core principles of the party: property and individual rights. And this isn’t the first time, either:

Some conservative Republican activists from around the state say they have harbored concerns about Howell since 2004, when he did not stop then-Gov. Mark R. Warner’s $1.4 billion tax increase. Three years later, he supported a controversial transportation package that some opposed because it led to another tax increase. And they blame him and other elected officials for contributing to a rise in state spending.

Even more laughable is this quote from the speaker:

“Anytime you have a diverse group, people are going to question your leadership,” Howell said. “You’re going to have different opinions.”

It’s ok for Delegates to deviate on issues from time to time as long as the make their reasoning clear to the people who elected them and realize that the activists who granted them their label reserve the right to revoke it during any nominating period. However, when you fundamentally backtrack on an issue such as this, you’re ruining the point of the label. Why award that when, in the middle of the game, when we have the opposition up against the wall, when we’ve made significant changes on transparency, you LITERALLY HAND YOUR OPPONENT THE BALL? This WILL be the Governor’s legacy issue, and Democrats WILL campaign on this. 

Mr. Speaker, thanks for the changes on transparency. You’ve made our government better with that. But with this deal with the opposition for short term political gain, you have put our party’s label and the trust of our loyal activists in serious jeopardy.

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  1. David
    February 19, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    It looks to me as if actually 6 Democrats in the House voted against the conference report: Hall, Shuler, Nichols, Pollard, O. Ware, and Lewis. Along with the 2 Independents, this means that 31 Republicans in the House voted against the conference report.
    Voting in favor of the conference report were 21 Republicans and 39 Democrats.
    One Republican (Crockett-Stark) was absent today.

    • February 19, 2009 at 5:16 pm

      You are right, I am wrong. Looks like the cause of liberty actually lost one Republican then. I’ll try to write up more about it tomorrow. Thanks for the tip.

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