Why Shadegg Should Be Leader

“We said it wouldn’t be politics as usual, and we’ve got to deliver.”

That is what newly elected Rep. John Shadegg (R.-Ariz.) told the National Journal in February 1995, the first time in 40 years a Republican majority had controlled the House of Representatives. Since then many of Shadegg’s GOP colleagues have fully assimilated to Washington’s spendthrift political culture, making their peace with big government. Not Shadegg.

This is why Human Events endorses Shadegg’s bid to become the new majority leader in the House of Representatives. Of the three candidates running for the job—Representatives Roy Blunt (R.-Mo.), John Boehner (R.-Ohio) and Shadegg—only Shadegg has consistently fought for smaller government.

During the Clinton years, Shadegg repeatedly fought his own leadership when they tried to cut deals with President Clinton that would have resulted in more spending. He fought for what he believed in and for what he told his constituents he was going to Washington to do—even when it meant he had to fight against more senior and more powerful Republicans, and even when it was predictable he would pay a political price within the House Republican Conference for doing so. According to the Almanac of American Politics, “His anti-leadership stands cost him a seat on Ways and Means in 1997.”

Yet, Shadegg became a leader in his own right. From 2000 to 2002, he chaired the conservative House Republican Study Committee, expanding its membership and building it into a formidable force within Congress.

Most tellingly, he continued to oppose big government programs even when a President of his own party pushed for them. When President Bush massively increased federal spending and federal involvement in education with the No Child Left Behind Act, Shadegg vocally opposed it and voted against it. Blunt and Boehner voted for it. When Bush pushed through his Medicare prescription drug plan, the first new entitlement program since President Johnson’s Great Society, Shadegg was a leader among the 25 House Republicans who had the courage to oppose the President. Boehner voted for the plan, while Blunt not only voted for it, he prowled the halls of Congress rounding up votes to make sure it passed.

Those acts alone ought to disqualify Boehner and Blunt.

There is a long history of congressional conservatives moving away from their conservative convictions as they move up in the Republican leadership. Would this happen to Shadegg, too? When the editors of Human Events asked him last week if, even as majority leader, he would oppose a President of his own party who tried to push through another big government program, Shadegg’s answer was direct: Yes, he would.

That is the kind of leadership Republicans need.