It's called "Looking Like a Good Guy".
You play it by finding bills that are likely to be overwhelmingly won or lost. It doesn't matter which. Then you vote with the other party with your largely meaningless vote, because the bill didn't need your vote to pass, or it would have lost regardless.
Then, when you campaign in your largely Democratic district, you can show those meaningless votes as proof you "step across party lines" to work with the other party.
Here's the critical part: you need to vote with your party on the close votes nearly ALL of the time. Because if you betray your party when they really need your help, you won't get their help (and money) when you run for reelection. So you stick with your party with a nearly perfect voting record when it's close.
If you play the game well, you can have it "both ways".
And when it comes to playing this game, "Both Ways" Shays is approaching "Grand Master" status.
On the closest votes—when his vote has the most power to affect the outcome, when the Republican Party most needs his support, and when 4th District residents most need him to make the right choice—Shays has lined up behind his Party’s leadership 89% of the time, or nine out of ten times.Let's remember that there is one candidate who won't play games. His name is Jim Himes, and he's running for Congress in the 4th CD.
This finding—based on analysis of the 1,752 votes cast in the 110th Congress—shows that Shays is not “purple” as he claims, but is, in fact, a true Republican partisan. Real political courage doesn’t mean crossing the aisle when it’s safe and easy; it means exercising independent judgment on the close votes where your decision can really make a difference.