The Intersection

So Who’s Vulnerable?

Bush’s stem cell veto is going to have big, big political repercussions. The stem cell issue will certainly feature prominently in multiple congressional races this fall. So now the pressing political question becomes, which members of Congress who are up for re-election, and who support Bush on stem cells (and therefore have votes on the record against expanding the policy), are most vulnerable? Hmm, I imagine Santorum is one of them….list your favorite enemies of science below, with an emphasis on folks actually up for reelection this year.


  1. #1 Fred Bortz
    July 19, 2006

    I’m an unhappy Santorum constituent, but this issue probably won’t hurt him. His opponent, Bob Casey, is a “pro-life” Democrat. If he tries to draw distinctions between himself and Santorum on this, he would probably lose more votes on the right than he could gain in the center.

    What do other Pennsylvanians think? Laurie, are you there?

  2. #2 Joe Shelby
    July 19, 2006

    do you have a website reference for the Senate vote? I’d like to know how Allen and Warner (both VA) voted.

  3. #3 John Lynch
    July 19, 2006

    Kyle (AZ) voted against and is up for re-election here in Arizona. We can only hope …

  4. #4 Lance harting
    July 19, 2006

    As Fred pointed out Santorum would have suffered more damage from voting for the stem cell funding in his largely conservative district.

    The foreknowledge of Bush’s veto probably ensured that Republicans, and Democrats for that matter, were able to vote the way that would be best for their election chances.

    This issue “plays to the base” in both parties. It may swing the dems way slightly since the middle ground of both parties is for the funding, but I’d be surprised if any Republicans were caught flat footed on this one.

  5. #5 Mozh
    July 19, 2006

    Kos gave us the roll call and the those senators who are up and have a viable democratic challenger:

    Enjoy 🙂

  6. #6 Chris Mooney
    July 19, 2006

    wow that kos link is really useful, everyone check it out

  7. #7 Fred Bortz
    July 19, 2006

    I would add that Santorum is getting a little traction with a TV ad about illegal aliens — his usual pandering and demagogery. If stem cells allows us to change the subject de jour, it might benefit Casey indirectly.

  8. #8 Rachel Robson
    July 19, 2006

    Incumbent anti-research Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO) is being challenged by pro-research Claire McCaskill (see for more information). McCaskill is fairly popular, and stands a decent chance of beating Talent in any case–but this issue definitely helps her, and hurts him. Also, Missourians will vote on a stem cell initiative this November (see for more information) as well as vote on Talent vs. McCaskill. Like gay marriage amendments did last election for Republican candidates, this local pro-stem cell research ballot initiative could draw McCaskill voters to the polls who might otherwise have stayed home.

  9. #9 Alan B.
    July 20, 2006

    Here is the position of Bob Casey, Santorum’s opponent in November:

    I would oppose the Castle bill to expand federal support of embryonic stem cell research. As a US Senator, I will strongly support funding for stem cell research that doesn’t destroy an embryo. There are many promising techniques under development that don’t require destroying the embryo and there’s good reason to hope that soon we’ll be able to remove the politics from this issue. I also strongly support increased federal funding for research on stem cells derived from adult cells, bone marrow and placentas – areas where tremendous progress has already been made.

  10. #10 Fred Bortz
    July 20, 2006

    Thanks, Alan.

    On this issue, there’s basically no difference for us Pennsylvanians. Casey even uses the language of science abusers:

    “There are many promising techniques under development that don’t require destroying the embryo…”

    That’s probably true in the literal sense, but it distorts the status of the science, overstating the promise of alternative approaches while not acknowledging that the most promising techniques use embryonic stem cells. Researchers following other paths are doing so for one of two reasons, or both: (1) they have moral objections to destroying embryos to harvest the cells; (2) their funding is for research in another direction.

    Why can’t anyone say this? “I realize we may be following a less promising scientific path, but I view the other as morally wrong because it takes a human life. As long as I am in a position to pass judgment on Federal spending, I can’t support embryonic stem cell research on moral grounds.”

    I wouldn’t agree with it–I’d even argue the points, but I would certainly respect it as both morally and scientifically honest.

    I guess I’m still an idealist after all these years!

  11. #11 SLC
    July 20, 2006

    The Republicans will successfully change the subject by running against same sex marriage.

  12. #12 Emily
    July 20, 2006

    RE: do you have a website reference for the Senate vote? I’d like to know how Allen and Warner (both VA) voted.

    Allen (up for re-election!) voted NO, while Warner voted YES. Allen is opposed by former Republican turned Democrat Jim “Born Fighting” Webb. Webb recently stated his support for stem cell research here (

  13. #13 Matthew C. Nisbet
    July 20, 2006

    I have this overview on how Bush came out on top yesterday in the battle over the visual.

  14. #14 Laurie Mann
    July 20, 2006

    Casey is awfully close to Santorum in many ways. The only reason I’m voting for him is he’s not Santorum.

    Santorum sometimes does backpedal, like he did on “intelligent design” (sic). It’s unlikely that stem cells would be one of his flip-flops.

  15. #15 jimvj
    July 20, 2006

    Slightly OT. WaPo published a timeline of the Stem Cell Debate that seems skimpy. In particular, I seem to remember that Clinton deliberately abstained from installing any policy on the very new science, leaving his successor a blank slate.

    I’m sure there are other omissions. Is there a better timeline anywhere? Is there a need for one?

  16. #16 Keanus
    July 20, 2006

    I’m a Pennsylvania resident and I’ll vote for Casey, not because I like his views–many I do not–but in ousting Santorum we not only rid the Senate of one destructive man but we also are one senator closer to having control shift to the Democrats. And, if I’ve learned one thing since 2002, having one party control both houses of Congress and the executive is a disaster. Gridlock, if it comes to that, is far perferable to what we have now.

  17. #17 Gridlockisgood
    July 21, 2006

    “Gridlock, if it comes to that, is far perferable to what we have now.”

    I think that’s how a lot of folks feel, but tragically, if that is really the case, there is no point in having a President or Congress at all.

    The basic underlying problem seems to be that a significant fraction of the people who have made Washington politics a career are far more interested in advancing their own agendas and those of the monied interests that put them in power than they are in doing what is best for the country as a whole or even the individual states they represent.

    Don’t get me wrong. I believe our Constitutional system of federalism is brilliant and the primary reason for our great success as a country in the past, but the system has been almost compeletely co-opted, and “gamed” (ie corrupted) by career politicians beholden to and doing the work of monied interests.

  18. #18 The Science Pundit
    July 25, 2006

    I’ll vote for Casey, but I voted for Pennachio in the primary. The arguments against stem cell research don’t even border on rational as far as I can tell. It’s truly frustrating.

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