2006 was a bad year to be a Republican. 2008 is a bad year to be an incumbent.
In 2006, voters wanted to throw out the congressional majority and try a new one. Two years later, they have discovered that they have the same inadequate Congress, just under different leadership.
That fact appears to have escaped the notice of some inside-the-Beltway talking heads, reporting about what’s happening on the ground from safe inside their DC offices. Like those brave reporters who cover Iraq from the Green Zone, their reports are just as inaccurate.
On May 20, The Politico pronounced that, “…the GOP is heading into the 2008 election without a single minority candidate with a plausible chance of winning a campaign for the House, the Senate, or governor.” That came as a particular surprise to me, since I am a conservative black Republican running for Congress in FL 22, with a good chance of winning. Here in South Florida, there are several minority Republicans running for Congress. We have all qualified and have no primaries.
Recent polling in this district shows that the Politico reporters needs to get out more. The vast majority of voters of both parties in my district want a new congressman, even though they just elected one two years ago. Why are the natives still restless?
Voters wanted change in ‘06, and they got it. Gas prices have more than doubled in two years. Newly approved tax policy will raise our taxes more than anywhere else in Florida. Environmental policy masquerading as an energy policy has driven up the cost of food at a record rate and has even sparked food riots around the world. When you’re a super power, those Washington votes have far-reaching effects.
But most of all, voters see that their views and priorities are not reflected in the votes cast by Congress. Voters were promised earmark reform in 2006 and still Congress took hundreds of millions for pet projects this year. Voters want secure borders but Congress has failed to act. Americans know that just as porous borders have destabilized Iraq and Afghanistan, an unsecured border threatens our security at home.
Here in FL 22, Congressman Ron Klein ran on a platform that he would “lead, not follow.” His “leadership” has him voting more than 95% of the time with Speaker Pelosi’s agenda, with not one original idea to solve a single pressing problem. My twenty-two years of uniformed service to our country was based upon “leading from the front.”
It takes courage to step away from the pack. The current leadership in Congress has not shown the vision, courage, and character to sustain the legacy of this Republic. Voters see that, and they want a new pack.
Our polls show that more than half the voters in FL 22 are ready for someone to replace Ron Klein. I think that computes to at least a “plausible” chance for me to win in November.
The Politico and certain Beltway pundits would do well to break away from the assumptions of the past, derived from the bottom line on a campaign finance report, and see what the rest of the voters see: This year is different and on November 5th, Congress will be too.
Politico did get one thing right: their headline read, “GOP fails to recruit minorities. I can’t speak for the rest, but I wasn’t recruited. Just like I volunteered for the Army two decades ago, I volunteered for this opportunity to serve my country again and I look forward to doing so in November.