Politics

Blue Dog Democrats Vote With GOP More in 2018

Illinois Rep. Brad Schneider had biggest drop in party unity score

Illinois Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider saw his party unity score drop in 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Blue Dog Democrats tend to move to the right in election years, which is understandable given that they typically represent swing districts.

And lately no district has swung more than Illinois’ 10th, in the affluent suburbs north of Chicago. Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider is currently serving his second, nonconsecutive term, having defeated Republican Robert J. Dold in 2016.

In 2014, Dold defeated Schneider, who was then in his first term, having beaten Dold in the 2012 election.

In 2017, Schneider was a relatively loyal Democrat, voting with his party on House votes that split a majority of Democrats from a majority of Republicans 88.1 percent of the time, compared to a party average of 96 percent.

But this year, he’s tied with Texas’ Henry Cueller with the second-lowest CQ party unity score among Democrats as of the end of June, 68.5 percent, trailing only Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema.

Sinema, who is voting with fellow Democrats 66.3 percent of the time this year, is running for the Senate in the GOP-leaning state where Republican incumbent Jeff Flake is retiring after one term.

This year, Schneider has parted with his fellow Democrats to vote in favor of legislation that Congress passed in May to exempt mid-sized banks from Dodd-Frank regulations. And he was with the Republicans in March on a bill to allow people with terminal illnesses access to experimental drugs that haven’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, though Schneider later voted against a similar bill that was ultimately enacted.

Schneider reclaimed his seat relatively easily in 2016, by 5 points, the biggest margin in his three races against Dold. With Dold declining to run again, business consultant Doug Bennett won the GOP nod in March. But Schneider is a big favorite this fall, with Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rating the race Solid Democratic.

Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy had the second-biggest change in CQ party unity score among Blue Dogs. The freshman lawmaker pulled off a surprise victory in 2016, unseating 12-term GOP Rep. John L. Mica. She faces a challenge from the left in next month’s Democratic primary, and the GOP is also targeting her seat in the Leans Democratic contest.

Another freshman Democrat moving right in 2018 is New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer, who unseated GOP Rep. Scott Garrett in 2016. Like Schneider, Gottheimer looks to be in good shape for re-election with his race against Republican John McCann, a former Cresskill Borough councilman, rated Solid Democratic.

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