Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Arizona Democrat Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Casts One (of two) Votes For Rep. John Lewis For Speaker

I confess.  I had C-Span on as background noise in the office this afternoon as the roll call vote for Speaker of the House (of Representatives) went on and on.  Teachers taking attendance in school seems like it takes forever, and that is when there are only a couple of dozen kids to call (likely soon to be three dozen).

I only caught the laughter when Boehner did not vote for himself.  I did not catch Arizona's Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-CD8) speak her vote for Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).  I only noticed it later when I was bookmarking pages to track our delegation's actions.

I did not Google it to see who else had noticed;  instead, I called the Representative's office to seek a statement.  Giffords' Communications Director, C.J. Karamargin had one ready and thought that the Arizona Daily Star had already run something on it.  They had, and a lot of other outlets have already noted the anti-Pelosi votes (a total of 19 Democrats).

Karamargin's statement is below the jump.  It is interesting that Rep. Giffords chose to not only not vote for Pelosi, but to not vote for the apparent quarterback of the anti-Pelosi-for-Minority-Leader Democrats - Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC).  Shuler received 11 votes today - but 43 (to Pelosi's 150) in the Minority Leader vote held in mid-November.

Karamargin's statement emphasizes that the Speaker vote was "ceremonial";  in this case, that means that it was a foregone conclusion that Boehner would be chosen as the new Speaker.  But, if it was only "ceremonial", you would expect all of the Dems to ceremonially vote for their Speaker of the past two years.  Giffords could not do that.

So, she is explaining her vote as honoring Lewis for his leadership in the civil rights movement and for being a "hero to all Americans".  She was even able to cite Sen. McCain's praise of Lewis.

UPDATE:  Shuler's office is claiming that his 11 votes represented the most partisan opposition in the "ceremonial" Speaker vote "in modern history"; counting Giffords and the seven other Democrats who did not vote for Pelosi, the distancing was even greater.

Karamargin's statement is after the jump:

Karamargin:  "Congresswoman Giffords today cast a ceremonial vote in the process of confirming Rep. John Boehner as the next Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The congresswoman’s vote for Rep. John Lewis signaled her desire for courageous leadership and high moral standards at a critical time in our nation’s history. He is one of our nation’s most prominent civil rights leaders and a hero to all Americans.

John Lewis spent a lifetime standing up for the enduring values that sets our nation apart from all others. He is widely admired by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both houses of Congress. Sen. John McCain, put it well in his 2004 book, “Why Courage Matters: the Way to a Braver Life.” Sen. McCain wrote that “John Lewis was as courageous as anyone could ever hope to be.”

In words and deeds, John Lewis should be a clear and bright guiding light for every member of Congress and every American. His integrity and civility is an example for us all."

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