Health Care: Bad Medicine for Moderate Dems?

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Things don’t look good for moderate Democrats who decided to support health care reform in the 11th hour—as well as those who voted against the bill but refused to repeal it. One of the first moderate Democratic incumbents to lose this evening was Rep. Suzanne Kosmas in Florida’s 24th District, who had voted against the first version of the health care bill but ultimately supported the final legislation.

Kosmas lost to Republican state Rep. Sandy Adams, who made Kosmas’ support for health-care reform one of the biggest issues of the campaign, blasting it as a government takeover. Adams even proposed state legislation that would allow Florida to opt out of the federal health law.

But even moderate Democrats who voted against the bill have proved vulnerable if they refused to take a hard stand against reform. Rep. Rick Boucher was defeated by Virginia’s current House majority leader, Morgan Griffith, in one of the first big upsets of the night. Though Boucher voted against both versions of the House health care bill, he refused to repeal the law, vowing to “reform it” instead. Griffith proceeded to hammer away at Boucher as a pawn of the Pelosi-Obama agenda, vowing to repeal the law once in office and backing the state’s lawsuit against it.

Similarly, Glenn Nye was another moderate Virginia Dem who voted against the health care bill, but lost anyway, as his opponent slammed him for not going far enough. Nye’s Republican opponent, Scott Nigell, attacked him for refusing to support a bill that would have denied the IRS the funds it needed to implement health care reform.

If national Democrats had stepped up earlier to sell health reform to the public, it may not have been such a liability. Unfortunately, they only began pushing a positive message on health care late in the game, putting these moderate Dems at risk. Such early GOP victories suggest that there will be mounting momentum in the new House to take “Obamacare” down by any means possible.

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