Nationwide, just 19 Democrats voted with House Republicans to maintain Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans — a policy that Democratic President Barack Obama opposes.
One of those Dems was North Country congressman Bill Owens, from Plattsburgh, who is scrambling to fend off a challenge from Republican Matt Doheny.
The left-of-center on-line magazine Salon chided Dems who broke ranks on the issue, but noted that Owens is fighting for his political life:
Finally, Republicans are getting a clean shot at Owens, who won his seat in New York’s North Country in a memorable 2009 special election. In that race and in ’10, Owens was boosted by the presence of a credible third candidate, Doug Hoffman, running on the Conservative Party line. That won’t be the case this time around.
The Doheny campaign’s Jude Seymour issued a statement suggesting that Owens had flip-flopped on the tax issue:
“Which Bill Owens can you believe? This spring, he voted for a House Democratic budget that included tax hikes on job creators. Today, he flipped and adopted the opposite position.”
But this issue gets at one of the challenges the Doheny camp faces: Owens’ relatively centrist voting record.
Owens did vote for “Obamacare,” but he has often broken ranks with his party, including a vote in late June to censure Attorney General Eric Holder over the “Fast and Furious” gun smuggling case.
Owens also voted in late July in favor of a deregulation measure supported by just a dozen other Democrats around the U.S.
Owens also has strong marks from the NRA.
Doheny’s camp has worked hard to suggest that Owens is still too far liberal for the Republican-leaning NY-21 district. But Doheny has to find a way to tell that story without making himself sound too far-right for the North Country.
Can the GOP find that narrative? The next three months will tell.