IS NICK LAMPSON A DEMOCRAT OR A REPUBLICAN?
Since being elected to Tom Delay's former seat, Nick Lampson has been one of the most reactionary members of the Democratic caucus. According to ProgressivePunch's "Chips Are Down" rankings, the only Democrat more likely than Lampson to desert the party on important issues is fake Dem John Barrow (GA). Yep, Lampson has been even worse than Jim Marshall (GA), Gene Taylor (MS) and Dan Boren (OK), three whose treachery and conservatism the GOP can almost always count on in a pinch. Lampson thinks pandering to ignorance and bigotry is more important in a deeply red district like his than being a leader. It's always harder, that's for sure. Will the pandering save him? Today's Houston Chronicle examines one Democrat who has moved right/(wrong).
Lampson is busy raising money to stave off what is sure to be one of the biggest GOP efforts to take back a seat they lost last year. Last year he outspent his Republican opponent by nearly 4 to 1, a rarity in American politics, where Republicans are almost always far better financed than Democrats. His voting record is one traditional Republican business donors should have little problem getting behind. He's the kind of Democrat, Republicans like-- a lot. The Post story says he's "tacked to the right to keep in sync with his heavily Republican 22nd District" and that he's "refashioned himself."
Gone is the moderate-to-liberal Beaumont Democrat from his earlier days in Congress. Nowadays, Lampson, 62, is keeping company with the Blue Dogs, a fiscally conservative bunch of Democrats working to bring budget discipline to Capitol Hill. [Ed: The last 8 words are mindless propaganda mainstream media innocuously inserts in stories like this to brainwash people who are too busy trying to make ends meet to pay close attention.]
And he's far from a solid vote for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and her lieutenants, joining a small band of other endangered Democrats to defect on sensitive issues.
Last week, Lampson broke with his party over Iraq. He was among 15 House Democrats who sided with President Bush by voting against a $50 billion Iraq spending bill that would have required the administration to start bringing some troops home almost immediately.
Lampson has ranged afield on other votes, opposing a tax package designed to keep millions of Americans from being hit by the alternative minimum tax; a bill banning workplace discrimination against gays and lesbians; several energy bills; and legislation limiting the administration's spying authority.
Lampson portrayed his Iraq vote less as a philosophical shift than opposition to a bill with contradictory elements. But he said he is not hesitant to steer a course that places him at odds with some Democrats.
"I'm not going to be afraid to go against the party," Lampson said in an interview in his Capitol Hill office. "I'm not going to be afraid to do what's best for the country."
Last year, when Lampson was first running, Blue America was repeatedly approached by his supporters for an endorsement. He didn't smell right and we demurred. We got it wrong in the case of Chris Carney, whose voting record has a very similar reactionary bent, but luckily we never got behind Lampson. Now he's trying to blur the distinctions between what a Democrat is and what a Republican is. The local GOP isn't buying it.
"Obviously Nick Lampson will do or say whatever it takes to try to get elected," said Jared Woodfill, the Harris County Republican Party chairman.
Already, local GOP officials have placed more than 400,000 automated phone calls to 22nd District residents, highlighting Lampson votes for tax increases and showcasing his $168,000 in contributions from the liberal MoveOn.org.
"Whether he is voting to strong-arm small businesses, switching his vote to provide taxpayer-funded benefits for illegal immigrants or happily taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from MoveOn.org, one thing is for sure: Nick Lampson's time in Congress is running short," said Ken Spain, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
I bet MoveOn wishes they had never raised any money for this one-- and I'll bet the Republicans won't be able to make the claim about them doing so this year. Instead he'll have Rahm Emanuel-- who approves of Lampson's xenophobic Tancredo-like stance against immigrants.
Perhaps more than any other House Democrat, Lampson has sided with the GOP on last-ditch parliamentary maneuvers designed to trip up Democrats by amending legislation on the House floor or sending it back to committee.
Of the 71 "motions to recommit" for which Lampson has been present-- many on hot-button issues such as immigration, taxes or gun control-- he's voted with Republicans for more than half, at times with only one or two other Democrats defecting.
That has created tremendous friction with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which bristles at vulnerable Democrats' willingness to vote for anti-immigration resolutions.
Republicans "are continuing to bring up racist issues to try to use them as a political wedge," said Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif., caucus chair. As for the defectors, he said, "The threat has got so many people scared and they think they have to vote one way when they don't have to."
After the Hispanic Caucus staged a revolt on the House floor to demonstrate anger at leadership for failing to halt the GOP resolutions, Baca said he and his allies are monitoring Democrats who vote for the measures. "We are going to have conversations with every one of them," he said.
Pelosi [now utterly dependent upon and under the control of Hoyer and Emanuel], who has exalted Lampson and his fellow freshmen as the "majority makers" who swept her into the speaker's job, has not forced the dissenters to toe the party line.
Lampson denied pressure from the leadership but acknowledged his votes have drawn colleagues' attention: "There's been some cross looks," he said.
Cross looks may be all Lampson can expect from his House colleagues. Grassroots Democrats may have something more effective in mind for him.