Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Politico: Election result: Red-state Dems worried, rethink agenda

Election Day losses in Virginia and New Jersey have congressional Democrats focused like never before on jobs — their own.

While the White House and party leaders are urging calm, Democratic incumbents from red states and Republican-leaning districts are anything but; Tuesday's statehouse defeats have left them acutely aware that their votes on health care reform and other major Obama initiatives could be career-enders in 2010 or beyond.

“I should be nervous,” said Rep. Parker Griffith, a freshman Democrat from Huntsville, Ala.

Griffith said the Democratic rank and file is “very, very sensitive” to the fact that issues being pushed by party leaders “have the potential to cost some of our front-line members their seats.”

Democratic Sen. Jim Webb — who watched Republican Bob McDonnell and other statewide candidates erase years of Democratic gains in his home state of Virginia — said Tuesday’s results show that Republicans are “energized from what happened last year” but also that “people up here on our side need to get their message straighter, too.”
Says Virginia Senator Mark Warner: "We got walloped".

But if Tuesday’s results leave red-state Democrats nervous about health care reform, a climate change bill and regulatory reform, it’s going to be harder — not easier — for Van Hollen and his leadership colleagues to develop that record of legislative accomplishment.

And that’s certainly where things seemed to be headed Wednesday. As Pelosi’s office ordered members to stay in town for a possible Saturday night House vote on health care, other Democrats were suggesting that it's time to take the foot off the gas.

As members came to grips with the election returns, Rep. Frank Kratovil Jr. (D-Md.) said he wants “as much time as I possibly can [have] to review both sides and make the best decision I can make” on the health care bill.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), a big swing vote for Democratic leaders, said Tuesday’s elections should tell Democrats that their “agenda needs to be patterned towards” the economy.

“People need to be saying slow it down and don’t add more to the deficit,” Nelson said. “And what have many of us been talking about? We don’t want to see anything added to the deficit unless there’s cost containment.”

On health care, Nelson said: “Let’s see coverage extended, … but at what cost?”

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