Suburban lawmakers stick with party in health care vote

When the House of Representatives voted Wednesday to repeal the Affordable Care Act, congressional representatives in Philadelphia’s suburbs all cast party-line votes, as most of the country did.

It’s an election year, and three suburban Republican Congressmen — Jim Gerlach, Mike Fitzpatrick and Pat Meehan — all represent districts with plenty of moderate and independent voters. Will it hurt them to go with party leadership and back repeal of the health care law?

Franklin & Marshall College pollster Terry Madonna said voters in such districts are closely divided on the issue, so it’s hard to see much downside in the votes.

Republican consultant Jeff Jubelirer agreed, and added that far more voters are thinking about the economy than health care. Jubelirer also said the stakes are lower because the repeal will never become law.

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“These incumbents know that it’s not going to matter, that they can put up this vote and the Senate would never go for it,” Jubelirer said. “So they can say to their party, ‘Listen, I supported you.'”

Democratic challengers are attacking Republicans for their repeal votes. Democratic consultant Larry Ceisler said the GOP lawmakers are likely motivated by what conservatives are thinking.

“And if you are a Republican incumbent, a moderate incumbent in Southeastern Pennsylvania, and you voted for what tea party types consider a wrong vote, then you are a target in a primary two years from now,” he said.

Ceisler adds that redistricting makes it even more likely incumbents will feel safe supporting party leaders.

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