Fourth-term Rep. Mike Ferguson of New Jersey, an assistant GOP whip, stunned fellow Republicans by voting for organized labor's bill ending the requirement for secret ballots in union recognition elections.
Conservatives were angered because there seemed less reason for his defection from the party line than the other 12 Republican defectors, most of whom came from districts with a high labor union presence. Ferguson's district has a median income of $75,000 with 74.5 percent in white-collar jobs, mostly financial services. Ferguson appeared to be unnerved by his close call in 2006 when he won re-election by a vote of 49 percent to 48 percent.
A footnote: As the Senate last Tuesday approved union collective bargaining rights for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees in a party-line vote, the only Republican supporting the measure was Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.
Persons who used valet parking while they heard Sen. Barack Obama address a high-level pro-immigration rally, sponsored by the National Council of La Raza, Wednesday night a short distance from the U.S. Capitol left the event to find that their cars had been stolen.
Two cars and two additional sets of keys were stolen from valets at gunpoint. One of the victims told this column: "There's nothing more frustrating than to come out of a black-tie event and find that your car has been stolen."
The event honored Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois and Cardinal Roger Mahony, the Catholic archbishop of Los Angeles.