In a comparison of freshman voting patterns in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Heath Shuler was found to be the most likely to cross party lines. Shuler hit the top of the list for “lowest party unity” score at 82.9 percent, as reported in an online article at CQPolitics.com, the Web site of the nonpartisan publication Congressional Quarterly.
The article noted that Shuler and other Democratic freshmen take conservative positions on “some social issues” and specifically mentioned Shuler’s votes against bills promoting stem-cell research and classifying certain violent offenses as “hate crimes.” The District 11 congressman was also cited for voting against a defeated bill calling for full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq within 180 days. (Shuler did support a previous bill vetoed by President Bush that would have made a reduction of U.S. troops in Iraq a condition in order to continue war funding.) The CQ analysis focused primarily on “vulnerable” Democrats who could be facing difficult re-elections in 2008.
Overall, Shuler ranked fourth among all the Democrats in the House for “contrary” voting, with Democratic lawmakers averaging 96 percent in party unity scores during the first five months of the year.
— Nelda Holder, news and opinion editor