In a political stunner that will gain the attention of every member of Congress, Politico.com is reporting that 14-term Rep. Alan Mollohan loses in West Virginia by a wide margin. This matters to the space community because Rep. Mollohan is the Chairman of the House Appropriations Science Subcommittee.
The reasons given for Mollohan’s defeat seem to boil down to two things, social issues and healthcare. In particular, his vote for the Administration’s Healthcare Bill, and its perceived less than rigorous right-to-life provisions, seems to have particularly affected Mollohan’s loss. Additionally, flirting with the Administration’s desires for a cap-and-trade climate bill did much damage.
How Rep. Mollohan’s stunning loss will affect the debate over the President’s FY 2011 plans for rewriting the nation’s human spaceflight program is unclear. Rep. Mollohan’s loss is a reminder that being a long-serving member of Congress does not give one cover in times such as these–quite the opposite in fact–when you are doing the bidding of an Administration whose priorities may not reflect those of constituents.
It’s pretty clear that carrying water for the President cost Mollohan his job. That lesson won’t be lost on other members of Congress wishing to survive the mid-terms. One casualty could well be acceptance of the notion by the Administration that voting with it is better than against it. Certainly, his loss gives no comfort to those in Congress being asked by the Administration to support their plans. We are left wondering if this political year may be summed up as, “Every person for himself.”