FL-22: Shaw vs. Klein

At 67, a cancer survivor, grandfather of 15, and veteran of 26 years in Congress, Clay Shaw could not be faulted for considering other things to do besides running again in Florida’s 22nd District (Palm Beach-Fort Lauderdale).

But running again he is. Republican Shaw (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 82%) is now the senior Republican on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee and, with Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) retiring from office this year, the Floridian says without hesitation: “My goal is the chairmanship.”

Democrats have never gotten over the 2000 race when, with vice presidential nominee Sen. Joe Lieberman (D.-Conn.) and wife Hadassah all but taking up residence in Shaw’s district to turn out votes in the Sunshine State, the GOP lawmaker was re-elected by a microscopic 599 votes—the closest U.S. House race in the nation that year. The 22nd District was significantly reapportioned in ’01 and Shaw faced well-funded Democratic challenges in his next two trips to the polls. Nonetheless, both times he survived with 60% of the vote.

“But they keep coming and spending money,” says Shaw of the Democrats, “I say ‘let them waste it.’”

This year, he faces arch-liberal State Sen. Ron Klein, who doubles as a lobbyist and legislator. Backed by trial lawyers and Big Labor, Klein is, as Shaw notes, “against any kind of tort reform at all. And that’s unforgivable. Tort reform is a necessity in this litigious society of ours. You shouldn’t have to pay for everything, including court costs, if a verdict says something is only partially your fault.”

Klein’s campaign against Shaw is, in the congressman’s words, “issue-less.” Klein seems to focus his fire exclusively on the Republican’s supposedly being a “rubber-stamp” for George W. Bush. Shaw fires back that “the President and I agree on more than we disagree. But a rubber-stamp? I never got in step with him on Social Security and believe he backed from away from making the decisive changes the program needs. The clock is ticking. And I opposed him on the Dubai Port deal. No foreign government should administer our ports.”

One thing Shaw does have in common with Bush is that Democrats apparently have never forgiven him for 2000. For that reason alone, the gentleman from Florida 22 merits strong conservative support in ’06.