Our friends at Gannett report today on an independent voting analysis showing that Tennessee's own U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander sided with President Barack Obama on Senate bills in 2012 more than any other Republican Senator in the South.
At a political moment when GOP congressional leaders even rejected an invitation to screen Lincoln, with the president and the stars of the movie, Alexander's apostasy stands out. Gannett reports that Alexander voted with the president — that is, he voted for bills that Obama had publicly supported — 62 percent of the time in 2012, after doing so 63 percent of the time in 2011.
He even spoke at the president's inauguration last week. ("Quick, Bates! My fainting couch.")
By comparison, GOP Reps. Marsha Blackburn and Diane Black sided with the president 11 and 13 percent of the time respectively. They each had "party unity" scores — voting the party line — of 99 percent. Alexander's party loyalty came in at 83 percent, compared to Sen. Bob Corker's 86 percent.
Does this really matter? It almost certainly does not. Every important Republican in the state, with the exception of Rep. Scott DesJarlais (but I repeat myself), has lined up to support Alexander's 2014 re-election campaign. And for Tennessee Democrats, Ashley Judd is not walking through that door.
Note (11:54 a.m.): I should also have pointed out a larger reason you can pass this study by. From deep within the Gannett article:
Because the Congressional Quarterly study focuses only on votes where the president has a clearly defined position, it covers a minority of Senate roll calls.
In 2012, for instance, the Senate took 251 roll call votes but Congressional Quarterly only found 79 where the president had a clearly stated position. And 40 of those were judicial nominations.
Alexander has a long-stated position that a president of either party should have his appointments barred only in extreme circumstances.
So, Alexander sided with the president on 62 percent of 79 votes, half of which were judicial nominations. This news is broken.