Potential House Health Care Vote Switchers Reliant on Party Campaign Money


Seven key Democrats seen as potential vote-flippers on the health care reform bill are heavily reliant on campaign funds from party leadership and online progressive activists.

According to campaign finance data at the Center for Responsive Politics, all seven Democrats–Reps. Jason Altmire, Suzanne Kosmas, Frank Kratovil, Scott Murphy, Glenn Nye, Michael McMahon and Betsy Markey–list Leadership PACs (political action committees) in the top three career industry donors. Three of the seven members are also heavily reliant on money from Democratic campaign committees or outside progressive fundraising through the web site Actblue.

The seven Democrats were identified in an Associated Press survey of members who previously voted “No” on the House health care reform bill. With pressure mounting to pass the Senate’s health care reform bill and the resignation of key members along with the death of Rep. John Murtha, Speaker Nancy Pelosi must round-up lawmakers like these seven to vote “Yes” after a previous “No” vote.

The upper Democratic leadership is particularly active in contributing to these lawmakers. Five of the seven lawmakers–Kosmas, Kratovil, Murphy, Nye and Markey–count the PACs of Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip James Clyburn in their top twenty career individual donors. Rep. McMahon counts two of the three Democratic leadership PACs (Hoyer and Clyburn) in his top twenty.

All of these seven lawmakers are either freshmen or, in Rep. Altmire’s case, a sophomore. Freshmen and sophomore lawmakers are often in greater danger of losing their next election and, therefore, more reliant on party and leadership funds to finance their victories. This puts them in a situation where the leadership has significantly more sway over their floor votes than other members.

Similarly, outside activists can push a lawmaker towards a certain vote by contributing or withholding funds. Rep. Scott Murphy, who won a special election in New York to replace appointed-Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, is the top recipient among the seven lawmakers of money from ActBlue, the online progressive clearinghouse for campaign contributions. Murphy received $315,807 in individual contributions through the ActBlue site making ActBlue his number one career individual donor. Rep. Betsy Markey also received a significant amount of campaign money through ActBlue with $124,090 coming in from the site.

See below for totals:

Lawmaker Industry Amount Rank
Jason Altmire Leadership PACs $220,662.00 3rd
Suzanne Kosmas Leadership PACs $201,978.00 2nd
Frank Kratovil Leadership PACs $182,115.00 3rd
Betsy Markey Democratic/Liberal $263,329.00 1st
Leadership PACs $229,248.00 3rd
Michael McMahon Leadership PACs $168,300.00 2nd
Candidate Committees $122,500.00 3rd
Scott Murphy Democratic/Liberal $383,017.00 1st
Leadership PACs $203,400.00 3rd
Glenn Nye Leadership PACs $190,791.00 2nd