Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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Besides DeLay Rule letter-writers, there's also a growing list of members who simply tell their constituents it was a "private vote" and refuse to answer any questions.

High on that list is Vernon Ehlers of Michigan, Jim Saxton of New Jersey (though we have some conflicting word there), Howard Coble of North Carolina (though again his staff has made some conflicting statements), and Denny Rehberg of Montana.

For many offices, as you can see, there are overlapping and conflicting answers given out to different callers and constituents -- sometimes to a single constituent. So often it's 'it was a voice vote, we don't know how he voted, but it's not recorded, and it's private, and give us you're address and maybe we'll send a letter later.' So, as you can see, it sort of challanges TPMs categorizing abilities.

In the case of Denny Rehberg, one his staffers apparently went so far as to tell one TPM reader that GOP caucus rules forbade him from disclosing his vote on the DeLay Rule.

I guess that means Chris Shays and the whole of the Shays Handful is in a heap of trouble.

A short note about the vote. The DeLay Rule vote, that is.

A number of congressmen (no congresswomen yet) are now telling their constituents that there's no question to answer because the DeLay Rule never came to a vote. (Staffers from Congressmen Tom Davis and Tom Feeney offices have both used this line, according to TPM readers.)

Nice try.

As we noted earlier, the rule was put to a voice-vote in the GOP caucus meeting. That means they asked for yeas and nays. And the yeas had it.

So it's true that there was no recorded vote. So there's no truly definitive way to know one way or another what a particular representative did unless they conspicuously said one thing or another and other members saw them say it.

All we really have to go on is how they say they voted.

Based on published accounts of members in the meeting, the number of 'nays' has been described as anything between a "handful" of members to between 30 and 50.

As we've already noted, it seems there are more members who now claim to have been in the Shays Handful than anyone saw voting 'nea' at the meeting. But what can you do?

In any case, the relevant point is that there was a vote. It wasn't recorded. There's no official tally. But everyone who was there was asked to say yea or nea. Why shouldn't they be willing tell their constituents what they said?

One final note: If your member of congress tells you there wasn't a vote, ask them whether those in the Shays Handful are lying when they say they voted against it.

Arizona round-up ...

Jeff Flake -- letter-writer.

J.D. Hayworth -- Credit where credit is due. Hayworth is a real 'winger. But he's in the Shays Handful. He even spoke against it in the meeting. Say it loud, say it proud, J.D.!

Jim Kolbe -- Apparently a letter-writer.

Trent Franks -- I'm willing to give this guy props. He voted for the DeLay Rule. But he says so prominently right on the front of his website. He's not hiding.

No word yet on Reps. Renzi and Shadegg.

Late Update: We've now gotten word back on Rep. John Shadegg. He's taking the 'private vote' line.

As of 2:30 PM this afternoon we've had TPM readers contacting quite a few Republican members of congress about how they voted on the DeLay Rule. And it seems fair to say that aside from members of congress from tomato-red districts, a very large percentage of Republican representatives find one way or another of not answering their constituents when they ask how their rep. voted.

Whether it's Pennsylvania's Jim Gerlach, whose office won't say how he voted, or Roscoe Bartlett in Maryland, who also won't say, most just find some way to dodge the question or insist the answer is private.

Apparently there's one Republican rep. from Florida who claims a vote never even took place. We'll follow up on that and report back if we hear more.

More to follow shortly.

The Manchester Union Leader is reporting that both New Hampshire reps., Charlie Bass and Jeb Bradley are part of the Shays Handful.

Bass seems to be making comments to the press while Bradley is trying to lay low. But both are in the Shays Handful.

[ed. note: If the 'handful' is starting to look rather large to you, yes, we've noticed the same thing. It has occurred to us as well that there may be a slight discrepancy between those who voted for the DeLay Rule and those who are willing to admit they voted for the DeLay Rule. But then, as we've seen, exit polls sometimes do not match up with the actual tally.]

Late Update: Pennsylvania's Phil English also seems to be a letter-writer.

More news on the DeLay Rule.

It turns out that all three Republican members of congress from Connecticut (Rob Simmons, Christopher Shays and Nancy Johnson) are members of the Shays Handful, according to this article in the Hartford Courant.

But neighboring New York seems like a different story. TPM readers have been told that Rep. Sherwoood Boehlert has a policy of only discussing his position on the DeLay Rule in letters to constituents. Rep. Sue Kelly and James Walsh are keeping mum. And Rep. John McHugh seems to be a letter writer as well.

Let us know if you've heard from your New York Republican rep. We're hoping at least one of them is in the Shays Handful.

Late Update: After several refusals to answer to TPM Readers, a staffer for Virginia's Tom Davis is now putting him in Shays Handful. We'll wait for more definitive word about Davis.