Childers did vote “no” on health care, but that vote shouldn’t be taken at face value, said Nunnellee. Childers didn’t publicize his decision until three days before the final vote was taken, and remained silent on the issue all throughout the health care debate – holding out until the last possible minute, instead of taking a principled stand. That gives the impression that Childers did indeed support the bil, but that “the [Democratic] leadership counted to 118 and then cut loose votes in districts that would not have supported somebody who voted the other way,” said Nunnellee.
One Nunnellee supporter, Rex Gillis, said that Griffith’s waffling on the health care bill sent a clear message to the independent or otherwise undecided voters in the first district.
“I do believe he’s a blue dog Democrat,” Gillis said of Griffith, “but what he did on the health care in the press… he never flinched, he never said if he was against it or for it. He was in that group of Senators who were told that once they got it passed, they were in a tough district and didn’t have to vote.”
John Randall at the National Republican Campaign Committee pointed out that even without the health care bill ambiguity, his seat is going to be a tough one to hold on to during the 2010 cycle.
“The Democrats recognize that this is a district that is heavily Republican, that Childers flipped in ’08,” said Randall. “Childers won because of a fractured party in 2008.”
Sensing the anti-Democratic sentiments, Childers, along with Democrat Bobby Bright of Alabama, were rumored to have been considering a party switch around the same time Rep. Parker Griffith of Alabama decided to switch to the Republican Party last year. Making that move would’ve probably spelled the end of either candidate, as evidenced by Griffith’s spectacular failure in the Republican primary last week.
Nunnellee has a different perspective. He says that whoever thought Childers was waffling about which party he wanted to be a part of had it all wrong, because Childers is a true-blue liberal.
“I don’t think that ever entered into his mind,” said Nunnellee. “I think that he believes in what the self-proclaimed wing of the Democratic Party wants to do.”