Stimulating Hypocrisy

Published — November 4, 2010 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Stimulated hypocrisy? A mixed bag for profiled candidates

Introduction

Two weeks ago, The Center for Public Integrity released an investigative story looking at Congressional lawmakers who publicly denounced the 2009 economic stimulus bill, then privately wrote letters requesting funds for pet projects. Then last week, we teamed up with our friends at the Huffington Post Investigative Fund on a story profiling other candidates – both Democrats and Republicans – who have benefited from government programs, but campaigned on their opposition to federal spending.

Between the two stories, we wrote about more than a dozen candidates running for office. With the election now behind us, it’s time to see how those politicians did.

The quick takeaway: Out of the 18 candidates in Center stories, 9 were victorious. Here’s a summary of how all fared in the Tuesday election:

Stimulating Hypocrisy candidates:

  • Texas Rep. Pete Sessions, a Republican cruised to reelection with 62 percent of the vote;
  • Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Republican and key figure in the Tea Party movement, won 52 percent of the vote;
  • Texas Rep. Ron Paul, another Republican and Tea Party leader, won with 76 percent of the vote;
  • Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, a Republican, cruised to victory with 67 percent of the vote;
  • Arizona Sen. John McCain, the noted foe of earmarks who wrote at least four letters to government agencies requesting stimulus funds, cruised to victory with 59 percent of the vote;
  • Louisiana freshman Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao received only 33.5 percent of the vote and was one of only a handful of GOP incumbents to lose their reelection;
  • Indiana Rep. Brad Ellsworth, a Democrat running for an open Senate seat, lost with only 40 percent of the vote;
  • Idaho Rep. Walt Minnick was one of just seven Democrats to vote against the stimulus bill. It didn’t help his reelection, as he ended up losing his seat with only 41 percent of the vote.

Anti-Spending candidates:

  • West Virginia Republican John Raese, a candidate for the state’s open Senate seat, lost with only 43 percent of the vote;
  • Wisconsin Republican Reid Ribble knocked off an incumbent Democrat with almost 55 percent of the vote;
  • Missouri Democrat Robin Carnahan lost her bid for the Senate with only 40 percent of the vote, losing to Republican Roy Blunt;
  • Ohio Republican Rob Portman cruised won a Senate seat with xx percent of the vote;
  • Ohio Republican Tom Ganley, an auto-dealer, lost his bid to unseat Democrat Betty Sutton. Sutton was the creator of the “cash for clunkers” program, from which Ganley’s auto dealership received $3.7 million.
  • Virginia Republican Scott Rigell beat incumbent Dem Glenn Nye by 11 points;
  • Ohio Republican Jim Renacci, whose car dealership was eliminated by GM’s restructuring, won with 52 percent of the vote;
  • Connecticut Republican Linda McMahon, who also is the chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment, lost the state’s Senate race to Democrat Richard Blumenthal 54-43 percent.

Still up in the air is the fate of Washington state Republican Dino Rossi, who is awaiting a final ballot count but trailing incumbent Democratic Sen. Patty Murray. In Kentucky, incumbent Rep. Ben Chandler, a Democrat, is also awaiting an official election tally although he has a slim lead that would let him survive the anti-incumbent wave that wiped out so many of his fellow Blue Dog Democrats.

Read more in Federal Politics

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