You might have seen that Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) has been rated by CQ as the Democratic Senator most likely to cross party lines. And if you haven’t heard about it, it turns out that his office is also stepping in to publicize it.
The ratings found that Nelson voted with the Democrats on just under 54% of “party unity” votes — Senate motions where a majority of the Democratic caucus votes opposite to a majority of Republicans. The runner-up was Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), who has retired, and who sided with the Dems on 68% of party unity votes.
I asked Nelson’s communications director Jake Thompson, was the office trying to send a particular message by reposting that article on their site? “No, not really,” said Thompson. “If you look, it’s really just case by case, I thought it was an interesting article. CQ is something you have to subscribe to, so people might not have access to the numbers. I thought it was a way to let people know about it.”
Thompson also added: “He was really emphasizing the fact that he doesn’t vote by party. People portray it as voting with the Republicans or against his party, but in his mind the party affiliation is not why he decides how he’ll vote. It’s just what the issue is. It may just be that siding with one party or the other you can add that overlay over it. That’s not what motivates him.”
Was the decision to repost that article related, I asked, to the fact that Sen. Nelson is coming up for re-election in 2012? Thompson said it was not — and indeed, he said the office had been planning to revamp and ramp up their news section since last year, but have only been able to get to it recently because of staffing issues.
“He’s not focused on 2012. He’s focused right now, he was saying before, on 2011,” said Thompson. “He feels that if he does the job that he was elected to in 2006, in 2011, then 2012 is something that will take care of itself when the time comes.”
Late Update: The National Republican Senatorial Committee forwarded us this statement, which they’d previously sent to Nebraska media:
“Whether it’s his support for President Obama’s massive health care overhaul, the failed $787 billion stimulus debacle, driving our national debt past $14 trillion, or bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on the backs of Nebraska taxpayers, Ben Nelson has been a reliable rubber stamp for his liberal Democrat party bosses. As he attempts to cling to power in 2012, Senator Nelson will need to look Nebraskans in the eye and explain why he has constantly supported President Obama’s extreme Washington agenda against their wishes and best interests.” - Chris Bond, NRSC Press Secretary