House Republican Who Broke Ranks on Holder Contempt Measure Wins
By Elizabeth Murphy | November 7, 2012 5:17 pm

The only House Republican to vote against holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress last summer and face re-election won a solid victory Tuesday.

Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) was reelected with 54 percent of the vote yesterday, winning in a heavily gerrymandered new district intended to turn the former battleground into more reliable Republican territory. The district now winds through Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News and the Eastern Shore.

Scott Rigell (Credit: Office of Scott Rigell)

Rigell voted against a measure to hold Holder in criminal contempt for his refusal to hand over documents to Congress related to its inquiry into the Fast and Furious gun-tracing investigation. In a statement explaining his vote, Rigell said the Founding Fathers had “built-in tension among the three branches” of the federal government, and the dispute with Holder was part of that tension.

Thefore, he said he did not believe in hitting Holder with the harshest punishment possible before trying other paths, including a civil contempt of Congress measure against Holder that the House also approved last June. Rigell voted for civil contempt, as well as for authorizing the House Oversight and Reform Committee to bring a civil lawsuit seeking to compel release of the documents.

Despite the state assembly’s shoring up of his district with Republican voters, Rigell still ran as if he had Democrats to please. His campaign stressed his bipartisan credentials and willingness to buck the GOP.  He disavowed anti-tax activist Grover Norquist’s “no-new-taxes” pledge. And on the campaign trail, he frequently cited his vote against criminal contempt for Holder as evidence of his non-ideological approach.

“We can’t stay on this path where too often loyalty to party trumps loyalty to our country,” Rigell said as he won re-election last night, according to the Daily Press in Hampton Roads.

Holder was the first sitting Cabinet member in history to be held in criminal contempt of Congress. The measure passed 255-67, with 17 Democrats voting with Republicans for contempt. More than 100 Democrats boycotted what they condemned as a politicized vote.

One other Republican, Steve LaTourette of Ohio, voted against criminal contempt. LaTourette is retiring, however, and did not face voters yesterday.

How did the Democrats who bucked their party to vote for contempt fare yesterday? Here is a breakdown:


  • Ron Kind (Wis.) garnered 64 percent of the vote against Republican Ray Boyland.
  • John Barrow (Ga.) received 54 percent of the vote in a tough battle against Republican Lee Anderson.
  • Collin Peterson (Minn.) took home 60 percent of the vote against Republican Lee Byberg.
  • Tim Walz (Minn.) won 58 percent of the vote against Allen Quist.
  • Nick Rahal (W.Va.) garnered 54 percent of the vote in a race against Rick Snuffer.
  • Bill Owens (N.Y.) took home 50 percent of the vote against challenger Matt Doheny.
  • Joe Donnelly (Ind.) pulled an upset win for a Senate seat against Republican Richard Mourdock, the state’s former treasurer. He garnered 50 percent of the vote compared to Mourdock’s 44 percent.
  • Jim Matheson (Utah) eked out a win against Republican rising star Mia Love, winning with 49 percent of the vote compared to the Republican’s 48 percent.
  • Mike McIntyre (N.C.) held on to his seat by 378 votes against David Rouzer.


  • Kathy Hochul (N.Y.) lost to challenger Chris Collins with 49 percent of the vote compared to his 51 percent.
  • Larry Kissel (N.C.) fell to Richard Hudson with only46 percent of the vote.
  • Mark Critz (Pa.) couldn’t overcome challenger Keith Rothfus’s 52 percent of the vote.
  • Leonard Boswell (Iowa) was defeated by Tom Latham, who won 52 percent of the vote.
  • Ben Chandler (Ky.) was only able to capture 47 percent of the vote, compared to challenger Andy Barr’s 50 percent.

Before Election Day, Democratic Reps. Dan Boren (Okla.) and Mike Ross (Ark.) retired from Congress. Pennsylvania Rep. Jason Altmire lost his primary bid against Critz in the newly redrawn 12th district.


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