Why Matheson Keeps Breaking Ranks to Vote with Republicans

Rep. Jim Matheson was one of 39 House Democrats who broke ranks and voted in favor of the “Keep Your Health Care” bill sponsored by Michigan Republican Fred Upton. It’s not surprising to find Matheson in that group.

National Journal points out most of those 39 Democrats come from districts where President Obama won less than 55% of the vote in 2012 – making them some of the most vulnerable electorally heading into 2014.

The vote followed some familiar patterns. Eight of the nine Democrats representing territory Mitt Romney carried in the 2012 presidential race supported the bill; Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., a fierce supporter of the law, was the only outlier there. In fact, Kirkpatrick was one of only two Democrats, along with Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel of New York, who voted no on the bill and represent a district where President Obama got less than 53 percent of the vote in 2012. Overall, 28 of the 36 voting Democrats from districts where Obama won less than 55 percent voted for the bill, and only 11 of 156 voting Democrats from districts where Obama topped 55 percent followed suit.

Kirkpatrick was also one of just three “Frontline” Democrats, members of the DCCC program for electorally vulnerable incumbents, who didn’t join Republicans on the vote. Reps. Lois Capps of California and John Tierney of Massachusetts were the other two. (DCCC Frontline chairman Tim Walz joined most of the members in his program in voting for the measure.)