Jones's 11 Take on the Surge
Granted, these guys aren't exactly as debonair as Danny Ocean, Rusty Ryan, Linus Caldwell and the rest of the Ocean's 11 characters. But Rep. Walter Jones (N.C.) managed to rally 10 of his fellow House Republicans Wednesday to join him in backing Democrats' resolution expressing disapproval of President Bush's plans to send more American troops to Iraq.
These 11 Republicans create the baseline for the number of GOP lawmakers who will vote against the president when the non-binding resolution comes to a vote Friday, with some GOP lawmakers and aides suggesting the number of defections will be double or triple that number, maybe far more than that.
But so far, the "Jones 11" are the only Republicans to go to the House floor and declare their opposition to their president's war policy.
Depending on one's view of the war, these lawmakers are: A) a courageous group willing to speak truth to power, even if it means bucking the party line; B) a politically timid set who stuck their fingers in the political winds looking to save their electoral hides; C) Johnny-come-lately's to a movement that started almost four years ago in opposition to the war; or D) a little bit of all of the above.
Capitol Briefing decided to examine the electoral realities confronting the Jones 11.
The two critical numbers in terms of the political health for lawmakers are the percentage of the vote received in winning reelection in 2006 and the percentage that John Kerry received in that district as the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004. For this data, we consulted the archives of washingtonpost.com for the 2006 results and the archives of National Journal's Almanac of American Politics for the presidential results in each of the districts.
The examination shows that the Jones 11 are a pretty diverse group. A quartet come from solidly Republican, mostly rural districts that gave strong support to the GOP incumbent in '06 and little support for Kerry in '04, signaling that they probably feel little political heat at home to buck Bush.
Only one Republican, Rep. Mike Castle (Del.), comes from a district that went to Kerry in 2004, and only two Republicans received less than 55 percent of the vote in 2006: Phil English (Pa.), who won with 54 percent, and Ric Keller (Fla.), who won with 53 percent.
So maybe they're all high minded idealists who oppose the war. Or maybe they're smart moderates who, seeing the Democratic wave in 2006, want to stay ahead of bad political trouble in 2008.
Here are the numbers:
MEMBER 2006 % Kerry '04 %
Mike Castle (Del.): 57 53
Howard Coble (N.C.): 71 30
John Duncan (Tenn.): 78 35
Phil English (Pa.): 54 47
Wayne Gilchrest (Md.): 69 36
Walter Jones (N.C.): 69 32
Ric Keller (Fla.): 53 45
Steve LaTourette (Ohio): 58 47
Ron Paul (Texas): 60 33
Jim Ramstad (Minn.): 65 48
Fred Upton (Mich.) 61 46
What do you think of the Jones 11? Sound off in the comments section below.
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