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Posted at 7:20 AM ET, 01/19/2011

Five members to watch on health care repeal

By Aaron Blake and Chris Cillizza

The House is set to vote today on a repeal of the Democrats' health care law, and we've got a good idea how it's going to turn out.

The bill is widely expected to pass in the GOP-controlled House on a largely party-line vote, will never pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate, and will die the death of the symbolic bill that it is.

But there will be a certain amount of intrigue when the votes come in today -- both because Democrats have been trying to turn the issue against Republicans and because there are 13 Democrats left in Congress who voted against the bill in the first place.

As it turns out, most of those 13 Democrats are expected to oppose repeal after all. But for those members and a few Republicans, the vote could give them some pause.

After the jump, we look at five members to watch when the votes are cast:

* Rep. Tim Holden (D-Pa.): Holden escaped a big-time challenge in 2010 after voting against the health care bill. But his district is tough, and a Republican-controlled round of redistricting could make it even tougher. Only a few of the 13 anti-health care bill Democrats haven't made it clear where they stand on repeal, and he's one of them.

* Rep. Ben Chandler (D-Ky.): Chandler also voted against the bill originally, surviving by the narrowest of margins in 2010. And he figures to be targeted again in 2012. Republicans have already jumped on his vote for Nancy Pelosi for speaker, and a vote against repeal could throw fuel on the fire. Chandler said during his campaign that he was against full repeal of the health care bill, citing the more popular parts of it.

* Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.): McIntyre voted against the bill and said he supported repeal after the bill passed in March. He was one of four Democrats who voted to move forward with a vote on repeal two weeks ago. He has not said recently that he will support repeal, but he will be a top GOP target in 2012. If he votes against repeal, it would be a big surprise -- and a big win for Democrats.

* Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.): Duffy did not push for a repeal of the health care law in his 2010 campaign, and unlike a lot of Republicans, he's actually pointed to some of the good things contained in the law (coverage for pre-existing conditions, etc.). His district could be friendlier after Republicans redraw the map, but it went 56 percent for President Obama in 2008, and he doesn't have an easy vote here. He's also getting some pressure from the local press.

* Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.): Hanna, like Duffy, is a freshman from a tough district who has balked at the idea of a full repeal. Hanna has not said how he will vote, and he stresses some of the finer points of the bill that he would like to keep. With both he and Duffy, though, you've got to remember: a vote against repeal would be the equivalent of begging for a tea party primary challenger. A 'no' vote from either would be a true shocker.

Republican field crowded in N.D.: The retirement of North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad (D) creates an open seat in a Republican-friendly state and a slew of GOP names are already being mentioned.

Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk has already announced an exploratory committee but almost certainly won't have the race to himself. Among the other names mentioned on the Republican side include acting Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, state Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Bismarck Mayor John Warford, former Gov. Ed Schafer and Rep. Rick Berg.

On the Democratic side, former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, former Rep. Earl Pomeroy and activist Joel Heitkamp (Heidi's brother) are seen as the top tier.

One x-factor when analyzing who might run is that the North Dakota governorship is also up for election in 2012. Several of the candidates mentioned above are also weighing that race and who picks which contest remains unclear.

The Cook Political Report rated the open seat a "toss up" in the wake of the Conrad retirement announcement citing the uncertainty of the two parties' fields.

But Republicans are very confident of their chances of winning, noting that they picked up a Senate and House seat in 2010 and that the state's underling GOP nature should shine through in a presidential year. In 2008, Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) won the state by eight points, but then-President Bush won it by a whopping 28 points four years earlier.

A 2011 election for WV-Gov: The West Virginia state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a special gubernatorial election to replace Sen. Joe Manchin must be held by Nov. 15, 2011.

The ruling sets off a sprint among Republicans and Democrats for the governorship.

Former Secretary of State Betty Ireland is already an announced candidate and is considered the favorite on the Republican side. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, who has long been mentioned as a statewide candidate, will not pursue a gubernatorial bid, according to a source familiar with her thinking (Ireland suggested as much in a recent interview). State Sen. Clark Barnes and state GOP chairman Mike Stuart are also mentioned as possible candidates.

On the Democratic side, acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, state Treasurer John Perdue and state House Speaker Rick Thompson are all considering bids.

It's not yet clear how each side will pick their nominee, whether through party conventions or primaries.

The West Virginia special election is the fourth governor's race that will be contested this year. The others are in Mississippi, Louisiana and Kentucky.

Fixbits

Former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie and former Republican Governors Association executive director Nick Ayers will lead new RNC Chairman Reince Priebus's transition.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said he has no intention of running for president in 2012, but he qualified it with an "at this point." He also wagered that he's "too much of a troublemaker" to be someone's vice presidential pick.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine says he will not run for Senate even if Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) decides not to run for reelection in 2012. Kaine, a former governor of Virginia, is often mentioned as the top alternative to Webb.

After a rocky two terms as Colorado Republican Party chairman, Dick Wadhams will seek a third term.

Must-reads

"Lieberman, Conrad Retiring: Who's Next?" - Jonathan Karl, ABC News

"Ultimate GOP aim is a slimmer health plan" -- Boston Globe

By Aaron Blake and Chris Cillizza  | January 19, 2011; 7:20 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Fix  
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Next: Fast Fix: State of the seating chart (VIDEO)

 
 
 
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