It’s too early to predict the outcome of the 2010 elections, but one thing we know for sure: If Democrats lose their majority in the House, Nancy Pelosi will not be Speaker anymore. That’s certainly one of the reasons that she doesn’t bat an eye (publicly, at least) when vulnerable and conservative Democrats run from her on the campaign trail.
“Sometimes Washington gets used to a rubber-stamp Congress which was the very homogeneous Congress of the Republicans,” Pelosi said on PBS last night. “We are very diverse in opinion, gender, generation, geography, philosophy and the rest — the House Democratic Caucus — and some members did not vote for some the bills and that’s their record and that’s what they go out and say. I just want them to win.”
But these candidates are not just running against their records. They’re singling out Pelosi as the agent in Washington with whom they disagree with the most. Below, a list of the five most blatant examples of Democrats running scared from Pelosi.
1. Bobby Bright
This anit-Pelosi ad by Rep. Bobby Bright (D-AL) went viral after it was uploaded last week. Not only does Bright highlight his broad disagreement with Pelosi’s agenda, he specifically aligns himself with Pelosi’s rival for the Speakership — House Minority Leader John Boehner. “Votes 80% with the Republican leader.” An odd alliance for somebody whose campaign is partially funded by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
In August, the Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner found Bright leading his opponent Martha Roby by nine points.
2. Joe Donnelly
Pelosi’s top priority as Speaker has been to address global warming. And though Congress has failed to enact the cap and trade legislation experts say will be required to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, Pelosi passed sweeping legislation in the House. In this ad, Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) trashes Pelosi’s achievement, which he voted against, by describing it exactly as a Republican would: “Nancy Pelosi’s energy tax on Hoosier families.”
A recent, Republican-leaning poll finds Donnelly leading his opponent Jackie Walorski by a small margin.
3. Chet Edwards
Once upon a time, Pelosi and Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX) were so close that she recommended Edwards to then-candidate Barack Obama as a potential Vice Presidential nominee. Fast forward two years, and Edwards still represents one of the most conservative districts in the country — a district he won in past years when Democrats were riding high. He may still be close personally with Pelosi, but not politically, and he wants his voters to know that. “When President Obama and Nancy Pelosi pressured Chet Edwards, Chet stood up to them, and voted no against their trillion dollar health care bill and no to cap and trade,” this ad boasts. “Chet votes with the conservative Chamber of Commerce 67 percent of the time.”
A recent OnMessage poll (R) found Edwards badly trailing his opponent Bill Flores.
4. Jason Altmire
Throughout the health care fight, Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA) wavered and agonized and sat on the fence…and finally voted no. Whatever he really believed, he clearly wanted reporters to think that it was a close call for him. Now he’s enlisted supporters in his district to sing his praises for voting against health care reform, and for regularly bucking Pelosi and Obama.
In September, Democratic polling firm Anzalone-Liszt found Altmire creaming his opponent Keith Rothfus 51-24.
5. Mike McIntyre
“I don’t work for Nancy Pelosi, or Harry Reid, or anyone else,” boasts Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC) in this ad. That’s basically right. Since the stimulus, McIntyre has pretty regularly opposed Democratic leadership on major issues. A recent SurveyUSA poll finds McIntyre in a dead heat with his opponent Ilario Pantano.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.