There has been controversy on the right in recent weeks over the prospect of Congressman Fred Upton assuming the chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee next year.
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Upton has been trying to win over folks on the right without much success.
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Many commentators on the right have cited a long string of bad votes by Upton, most notoriously his legislation to ban the incandescent lightbulb by 2012. They have asked how Upton could possibly keep getting reelected with this record.
The short answer: because people in this district don't know his record. Upton is certainly a hard worker with good constituent service who comes across as friendly, likable representative. He works the district hard and regularly appears on all the local media outlets.
And the local media loves him back. The Gazette in particular endorses him every two years and extols his 'moderate' record. Consequently, the local media does not report on his voting record. Oh, an occasional vote may be mentioned here or there, but they are often buried and always quickly forgotten. Upton almost never mentions his nonconservative votes in the district (with occasional exceptions such as the auto bailout), but he highlights his conservative stances such as opposing Obamacare and cap-and-trade, so many local Republicans think that his record is more conservative than it actually is.
Probably the most prominent media outlet to regularly report on Upton's voting record is... this blog.
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Upton's Light Bulb Ban
As for national conservatives who wonder how Upton keeps getting elected, where were they four months ago when Upton was fending off the toughest primary challenge of his career? Former state rep. Jack Hoogendyk racked up 43% against Upton on a shoestring budget with only radio ads for advertisement. Practically no national conservatives mentioned the race. Jack's total was, as far as this blog remembers, the highest percentage of any unsuccessful challenge to a Republican congressional incumbent this cycle. The only House incumbent to lose a primary challenge this cycle was Rep. Bob Inglis, who was savaged by Glenn Beck for statements attacking conservatives.
Meanwhile, Fred Upton's voting record always seems to get more conservative when he faces conservative scrutiny. His most conservative year according to the American Conservative Union was 2002, when he faced a primary challenge from Dale Shugars. Upton's voting record has been similarly good this year, far better than the 44% he got in 2008. It would be nice if Upton would start voting consistently conservative, but history doesn't suggest that this is likely.