I'm a Pundit Too

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Republican Retirement Spells Opportunity

Former Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert announced this week that he will not be seeking reelection next November. Hastert is just one of a dozen or so Republicans in the House that have announced their retirements. The Democrats have obviously seized on the retirements to try to portray the Republican party as weak and surrendering. I would like to take the opportunity of Hastert’s retirement to analyze who is leaving and the opportunities that have opened up for the Republican party.

Hastert is the most notable congressman to retire. He took over as Speaker when Newt Gingrich stepped down in 1999. He ran the House until January when the Republicans lost the House and Nancy Pelosi took control of the gavel. Hastert has been a staunch supporter of the president and the war on terror. His support for the defense of our country will be missed. Hastert’s tenure as Speaker was notably different than Newt’s, in the lack of controversy and spending cuts. He does deserve credit for ensuring the tax cuts of early 2001 were passed, but the caveat is the sunset clause of the cuts.

Representative Deborah Pryce of Ohio has been considered a moderate Republican by the media. A moderate Republican is defined by the media as one who often votes with the opposing party. A moderate Democrat is anyone that has a ‘D’ beside their name. Pryce has a mixed voting record on abortion, gun control, and taxes. She was a member of the freshman class of 1994 of Congress.

Congressman Charles “Chip” Pickering has also announced his intentions not to seek reelection next year. Pickering has been a member of the House since 1996 and has a very conservative voting record on all issues tracked by the non-partisan website On the Issues. Pickering will be another member that will be missed.

Representative Ray LaHood of Illinois said that he found no enjoyment being in the minority. LaHood was also a member of the freshman class of the House of 1994. While LaHood’s voting record is a promising footnote to his political career, his comments about leaving because of being in the minority will remain his political legacy. If all that was keeping LaHood in DC was being a member of the majority, then we are all better off with him not there representing us.

In the Senate there have been a few big name retirement announcements. Senator John Warner of Virginia and Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska have both decided to bring an end to their long political careers. Hagel has been an outspoken critic of the President and the war in Iraq. He was a leader this past summer in trying to pass the horrible Comprehensive Immigration Reform. His voting record is mixed which automatically made him a media star as a moderate.

Senator Warner has a distinguished military record and has spent nearly 30 years as a Senator from Virginia. He has been a strong voice for the military while he served on the Senate Armed Services Committee. He has voted for more gun control and has voted to increase federal funding for stem cell research. Warner will be missed on issues relating to our military but on other issues he has been much less than desirable.

There are a total of 17 Republicans from both houses of Congress that have announced their plans to retire. Some members will be missed and others cannot leave seen enough, but the real question is, what will the Republican party do to fill their vacant seats? The Citizens Against Government Waste: website shows that most of the Republicans that are leaving have not been very tight with the government’s wallet when it came to pork. Will the Republican leadership stand up for the American people and our money by sending true conservatives to run for Congress? I believe a true conservative is one who is for lower taxes for all Americans, and for cutting back on the spending habits that would make a drunken sailor shake his head. I believe that the Republican party’s trouble over the past few years has been the lack of fiscal responsibility in Washington. The Republicans lost their control of Congress due to their hypocrisy on the budget. They all claim to be for lower taxes and cutting spending but a quick check on the CAGW website shows that the Republicans have been just as greedy as the Democrats when it comes to spending our money. If the Republican party ever wants to regain control of the Congress they need to take this opportunity to run true conservative candidates. They have a chance to reshape the Republican party into a conservative party, will the Republican leadership show true leadership? Or will it be business as usual in Washington?

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