The following letter was sent to Republican House members Thursday in support of Rep. John Shadegg (R.-Ariz.), one of three candidates for House majority leader.
We believe that our Republican Conference faces a crisis. And, whether we like it or not, a number of national polls bear out our concern. Simply put, the current climate we face is the worst it has been since we seized the majority in 1994. Any Member of Congress who fails to understand that should read the polls. If we do not understand voters’ anger and respond, we will suffer the consequences in November.
The American people support our substantive agenda. They support smaller government, lower taxes, and greater freedom. When we are the party of ideas, we win. But fairly or unfairly, the recent scandals are tarnishing our party’s image, and threatening our majority in the House of Representatives. We must make a clean break and support real reform.
The recent scandals are taking a toll. Three times as many voters say corruption is a bigger problem among Republicans than Democrats. Of voters who associate Jack Abramoff with one party or the other, 15 times as many associate him with the Republicans Party (30 percent Republicans, 2 percent Democrats). According to a CBS News poll released on January 9, more than twice as many Americans believe that Republicans are more corrupt than Democrats (36 percent say Republicans are more corrupt, 16 percent say Democrats).
According to the Diaego/Hotline poll, released on January 19, nearly 60 percent of the American people disapprove of the way Congress is doing its job. More Americans believe that the country would be better off if Congress was run by Democrats rather than Republicans. Congressional approval is only 27 percent – lower now than any time since 1994.
In a Harris Poll released on January 13, Democrats had nearly a ten point lead on the question, "If the election for Congress were held today, which party would you vote for?" (43 percent for Democrats compared to 34 percent for Republicans).
These perceptions are neither fair nor accurate – but they are reality. We must realize that the Majority we have all worked so hard for is in jeopardy. The only choice is to embrace real reform.
We all respect Roy Blunt and John Boehner. Many of us have worked closely with them over the years, but the only candidate in this race who represents a clean break with the recent past and the genuine opportunity for real reform is John Shadegg.
John has the reputation, the capacity, the track record, and the broad support in the Conference to be the right majority leader for this difficult time. We urge you to support John in the election on February 2.
Rep. Jim Kolbe
Rep. Charlie Bass
Rep. Paul Ryan
Rep. Tom Feeney