The Times West Virginian

Headline News

December 24, 2013

House foe of health overhaul still top GOP target

WASHINGTON — Listen carefully when Republicans say they can blame almost every House Democrat for the flaws of the health care overhaul. Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., is the exception.

He’s never voted in favor of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. It’s a key reason the nine-term Democrat is still in Congress. It might be enough in 2014, although he barely won last year. In a district redrawn by Republicans for Republicans, McIntyre is the GOP’s top Democratic target in the battle for control of the House.

Instead of Obama at the top of the ticket as he was in 2012, the state’s marquee race next year is Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan’s battle for re-election.

“And that’s going to be all about Obamacare,” said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. “It’s going to take a tremendous amount of money to go out and try to convince Republicans (that) any Democrat in Washington is helpful as it relates to eliminating the Affordable Care Act.”

If Burr is right, then the political perils of “Obamacare” are so potent that there is no immunity for any lawmaker of the president’s party, even for Democrats like McIntyre and recently, Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, who have voted for its repeal. Each man squeaked to re-election in 2012 by a few hundred votes.

Last week, Matheson announced he will not run for re-election. That leaves McIntyre as the only survivor among conservative House Democrats seeking re-election in 2014 who can say he told us so about the national health care law. His biggest problem may be that he remains a member of the president’s party.

“In the South, Obamacare is not the only issue. They have very strong feelings about the president,” said Robert Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health. “There are questions about his (Obama’s) honesty and integrity...There’s a growing antagonism toward the president. That’s going to be the toughest thing for him (McIntyre) to escape.”

Voters hold Obama in low regard in increasingly personal terms following the disastrous rollout of the web site for enrolling for insurance coverage. Democrats, even Obama’s allies, have publicly said they’ll deal more cautiously with him now. Americans view Obama similarly: A clear majority of adults, 56 percent, say “honest” does not describe Obama well, according to The Associated Press-GfK poll. That’s worse than his 52 percent rating in an October poll.

Promising Americans they could keep their health insurance only to see 4.2 million policies canceled under the law may have reversed political gains Democrats thought they had made from the government shutdown, for which the nation largely blamed Republicans. Now, many Democrats see the 2014 election as less about gaining the 17 House seats the party needs to win the majority. It’s more about not losing the seats they have.

McIntyre’s is among the most vulnerable.

That’s why the 57-year-old scion of a prominent Lumberton, N.C., family is quick to list his conservative bona fides, starting with his opposition to the president’s health care law. McIntyre, a lawyer, said his impression back in 2009 was that the law would place too much of a burden on doctors and hospitals. Recent layoffs at two area hospitals vindicate the position, he says.

Were it not for his opposition to the health care overhaul, McIntyre might well be back in private practice right now. He acknowledges that possibility — in 2012, McIntyre bested GOP rival David Rouzer by only 654 votes, the closest margin of any House race in the nation. Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney defeated Obama in McIntyre’s district by 19 percentage points.

The health care law, McIntyre said, was “a litmus test for some people and for others it was other things” that helped them decide how to vote. Preserving jobs in his district was his top concern at the time, he added. “Ultimately, it was not about whether it was a Democratic or Republican idea.”

McIntyre has ridden the centrist rail on a wide array of issues, bucking his party by voting against a cap-and-trade bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and against repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy barring openly gay service members. This month, McIntyre voted against the bipartisan budget that was supported by most House Democrats.

His opposition to the health care law has drawn the most attention. He says local Democrats “censured” him in a news release. It’s part of the reason he’s drawn a longshot primary challenger this time in county commissioner Jonathan Barfield, a realtor whose campaign motto is “time for a change,” and whose web site states plainly: “I am a strong supporter of the health care act.”

The 2010 redistricting by North Carolina’s Republican-held legislature tells much about McIntyre’s struggle. The GOP carved his home base of Lumberton out of the 7th district, replacing it with Republican-friendly areas. McIntyre’s winning margin dropped from a high of 91 percent of the vote in 1998 through the 70s to a winning percentage of 54 percent in the tea party-driven wave of 2010.

Then came redistricting and last year’s election. It took three weeks after the polls closed for McIntyre to be declared the winner, barely.

A rematch against Rouzer looms next year. Neither candidate had raised much campaign cash through November.

McIntyre knows he’s vulnerable, however vindicated he may feel by the law’s botched rollout and Obama’s apology to the nation.

His most potent weapon is his robust constituent service, a strength acknowledged by even Burr. But McIntyre is aware he’s got many constituents in his newly drawn district who may not know him.

“I’m a centrist and I’ll continue to be a centrist,” McIntyre said. “People know my heart is in my district.”


Text Only
Headline News
  • W.Va. man arrested after child found in hot car

    A Wheeling man faces charges that he left his 18-month-old daughter in a hot car while he was asleep on a couch.

    July 29, 2014

  • Board to meet on dangerous animals list

    CHARLESTON (AP) — A board tasked with compiling a list of animals that are illegal to keep as pets in West Virginia will consider one that’s shorter than a list suggested earlier.

    July 28, 2014

  • Clinton impeachment shadows GOP lawsuit against Obama

    The last time Republicans unleashed impeachment proceedings against a Democratic president, they lost five House seats in an election they seemed primed to win handily.

    July 28, 2014

  • Study: Fist bumps less germy than handshakes

    When it comes to preventing the spread of germs, maybe the president is on to something with his fondness for fist bumps.

    July 28, 2014

  • Obama Exporting Pollu_time.jpg ‘Not in my backyard’: U.S. sending dirty coal abroad

    As  the Obama administration weans the U.S. off dirty fuels blamed for global warming, energy companies have been sending more of America’s unwanted energy leftovers to other parts of the world where they could create even more pollution.
    This fossil fuel trade threatens to undermine President Barack Obama’s strategy for reducing the gases blamed for climate change and reveals a little-discussed side effect of countries acting alone on a global problem. The contribution of this exported pollution to global warming is not something the administration wants to measure, or even talk about.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • U.S.: Russia fired rockets into Ukraine

    Stepping up pressure on Moscow, the U.S. on Sunday released satellite images it says show that rockets have been fired from Russia into neighboring eastern Ukraine and that heavy artillery for separatists has crossed the border.
    The images, which came from the U.S. Director of National Intelligence and could not be independently verified by The Associated Press, show blast marks where rockets were launched and craters where they landed. Officials said the images show heavy weapons fired between July 21 and July 26 — after the July 17 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

    July 28, 2014

  • Plan to simplify health renewals may backfire

    If you have health insurance on your job, you probably don’t give much thought to each year’s renewal. But make the same assumption in one of the new health law plans, and it could lead to costly surprises.
    Insurance exchange customers who opt for convenience by automatically renewing their coverage for 2015 are likely to receive dated and inaccurate financial aid amounts from the government, say industry officials, advocates and other experts.
    If those amounts are too low, consumers could get sticker shock over their new premiums. Too high, and they’ll owe the tax man later.

    July 28, 2014

  • W.Va. Judge: WVU, IMG College deal is OK

    A judge has denied a motion by West Virginia Radio Corp. to toss the media rights contract between West Virginia University and IMG College.
    Media outlets report Monongalia County business court circuit judge Thomas Evans set aside a motion for summary judgment against WVU and others.
    West Virginia Radio was seeking to void any contract entered by WVU and IMG. West Virginia Radio unsuccessfully bid on the contract, then filed a motion for summary judgment in February, claiming school officials violated state procurement laws.
    Evans ruled the code cited by the plaintiffs didn’t apply to the $86.5 million, 12-year agreement reached last year.

    July 28, 2014

  • Powerful storms rip through eastern U.S.

    Powerful storms raking across several states in the eastern U.S. on Sunday have destroyed at least 10 homes in Tennessee, and there were no immediate reports of any deaths or injuries, authorities said.

    July 27, 2014

  • Lawmakers say Obama too aloof with Congress

    President Barack Obama’s request for billions of dollars to deal with migrant children streaming across the border set off Democrats and Republicans. Lawmakers in both parties complained that the White House — six years in — still doesn’t get it when it comes to working with Congress.

    July 27, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads