Democratic Congressman Says He Voted For McCain

When it comes to finding a Democratic incumbent who’s distancing himself from the White House, it’s hard to find anyone further away than Mississippi Congressman Gene Taylor:

It’s the ultimate in distancing yourself from your party: Rep. Gene Taylor, a Democrat from Mississippi, said in an interview with Mississippi’s Sun Herald that he voted for Republican John McCain in the 2008 presidential election.

Taylor has often broken with his own party, and has repeatedly criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for being too liberal in this campaign cycle – even though he voted her to be speaker in 2007 and 2009.

He now says that’s over.

“I will not support her for speaker again” Taylor said in the interview. “I’m very disappointed in how she’s veered to the left.”

Taylor said he would throw his support behind Missouri Rep. Ike Skelton, another moderate Democrat and the chair of the House Armed Services Committee

This is unlikely to hurt Taylor:

Taylor won a full term in 1990 with 81 percent of the vote. He faced tough reelection bids in 1992, 1994 and 1996. However, since 1998 he has skated to reelection by an average of 71 percent of the vote. His district was renumbered the 4th after the 2000 redistricting cost Mississippi a congressional seat.

Taylor’s hold on the 4th is particularly remarkable since it is, on paper, one of the most Republican districts in the nation. The 4th has not supported the official Democratic presidential candidate since 1956 (when the Democrats nominated Adlai Stevenson). It is currently the most Republican district in the nation to be represented by a Democrat, with a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+20. In the last three elections, it has given the Republican presidential candidate his best total in the state.

In other words, Taylor is one of those Southern Democrats who may as well be a Republican.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2010, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. TG Chicago says:

    On Tuesday, Mataconis says: “In other words, Taylor is one of those Southern Democrats who may as well be a Republican.”

    Yet on Sunday, he said that Democrats who don’t embrace Blue Dogs are “dumb”.

    Why would a progressive want to embrace someone who “may as well be a Republican”? Why would they want a virtual Republican to have the shot of a committee chair when, if the seat gets taken by an actual Republican, that’s not a danger? Why would they want DNC money be used to elect a virtual Republican?

    To me, it seems that the best course in most cases would be not to primary the virtual Republican if a more moderate Democrat would be unable to win the election. But also there’s no reason to spend DNC money to elect someone who’s not going to vote with the DNC.

  2. Taylor is obviously a special case, TG. You’re not going to here Heath Schuler or Jason Altmire say they didn’t vote for the President.

    My point is that he is a reflection of the fact that many Southern Democrats, especially in places like Mississippi and Alabama, have moved to the GOP over the past several decades.

    Take a look at that district and you’ll see that Taylor is probably the only Democrat who could win there. If the party wants to abandon him because he is the bluest of the Blue Dogs, that’s fine. Just remember that it probably just means he’ll switch parties.

    I refer you to Richard Shelby

  3. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    Next thing you know he will be seeking the endorsement of Sarah Palin.

  4. Guys,

    It’s worth noting that Charlie Cook lists MS-04 as a Toss-up, and Nate Silver rates it at a 61% chance of a GOP pickup:

    http://elections.nytimes.com/2010/forecasts/house/mississippi/4

    Taylor is a Democrat representing a district that hasn’t gone voted for a Democrat in a Presidential election since 1956. He’s an anomaly. This should not surprise anyone

  5. TG Chicago says:

    Take a look at that district and you’ll see that Taylor is probably the only Democrat who could win there. If the party wants to abandon him because he is the bluest of the Blue Dogs, that’s fine. Just remember that it probably just means he’ll switch parties.

    So instead of spending money to elect someone who votes like a Republican, they can keep their money (to use in other borderline races)… and elect someone who votes like a Republican.

    Basically, I’m pointing out that there are opportunity costs, like pretty much everything else in life. Saying that it’s “dumb” to leave Blue Dogs to their own devices is oversimplistic. There are quite rational reasons for doing so.