Earlier we noted that a number of Democrats who barely squeaked into Congress in the 2006 election (with under 55 percent of the vote, according to the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics) are on the House Education and Labor Committee.
Only three incumbent Republicans retained their seats with a similar vote proportion. One is Rep. Ric Keller of Florida, who is the ranking member on the House subcommittee overseeing higher education and a long-time advocate for increasing federal Pell Grants for low-income students.
Another is Rep. Mark Souder of Indiana, a member of the conservative Republican Study Committee, a caucus that has been critical of the No Child Left Behind Act’s expansion of the federal role in education.
The third is Rep. John R. “Randy” Kuhl Jr. of New York. In 2005, Kuhl was one of a handful of Republicans who voted against a proposal authored by Rep. John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, then-education committee chairman and now minority leader, which would have given private school vouchers to students displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Kuhl is running against his 2006 opponent, Eric Massa, a former naval officer, who already has a statement up on his Web site criticizing NCLB for forcing educators to narrowly focus on standardized tests.
Both Keller and Souder voted for NCLB in 2001. Kuhl wasn’t in Congress at the time.
Look for all three Republicans to have potentially interesting re-election campaigns or serve as possible swing votes on contentious issues this year, particularly if an NCLB reauthorization bill makes it to a committee vote in the House.