After House GOP Whip Eric Cantor promised the Tea Partiers unified Republican opposition on Thursday, I assumed there wouldn’t be any defections. After all, he succeeded in whipping total opposition to the stimulus and the budget. Word has it, though, that Republicans are worried about Rep. Joe Cao, a Louisiana Republican who took William “$90,000 in the freezer” Jeffferson’s seat. Cao is a former Jesuit priest who votes in line with the Catholic Bishops. He won his seat in 2008, barely edging out Jefferson 50% to 47% despite the fact that Jefferson was under indictment at the time. President Obama won the district last year with 75% of the vote. Rumor has it that Rahm Emanuel and Nancy Ann DeParle have been leaning on Cao to follow the bishops and vote for the bill if the Stupak amendment passes.
Eric Cantor’s office quibbles with the idea that he “promised the Tea Partiers unified Republican opposition.” The actual quote: “Your efforts to stop this bill are being heard loud and clear and I will guarantee you that we are committed to making sure that not one Republican will vote for this bill.”