A less-pragmatic politician may have jumped in anyway. The NRCC probably wanted to see how much Halloran could raise on his own before they deemed him viable for their treasure chest. But in a campaign against Ackerman, a strong incumbent, Washington had to show some good faith first. Halloran showed good judgment in staying in his position and serving out his term in the City Council.
Hope and Change, and Sometimes Just Change
Writers look everywhere for signs that might indicate whether this will be a watershed year for the Republican Party. Some signs, like Tom Suozzi and Andy Spano losing their county executive positions, are indicative of a change.
But this November is a long way out from those elections, and the national party has yet to put forth a plan to at least explain what they would do as a majority party. In 1994, they waited until September of that year before they rolled out the Contract with America. I saw Newt Gingrich in Washington, D.C., a few months ago, where he stressed the importance of new ideas and new candidates in order for the party to grow.
Last week, a true tell-tale signs that signals things might be different this year came from Hawaii, where Charles Djou won a special election to become one of the state’s congressman. Hawaii has not had a Republican represent them in either house in more than twenty years.
The reason why this race is significant is that Hawaii is a state that usually votes Democratic. It is in no way hostile territory for Republican candidates, and even has a Republican governor. It just happens to be one of those states that almost never sends Republicans to Congress, like New Jersey. Djou may not last long. He has to then win again this November, and that will not be a three-way race, but he was able to win in a significant district.
The reason why Scott Brown and Charles Djou were able to win in non-traditional states is because they were not traditional candidates. If Republicans want to win in New York, they need to seek out non-traditional candidates, meaning younger and with strong backgrounds. Right now, it looks as though there will be some new members in Congress after November, but whether that will have carryover into New York remains to be seen.
Last week, I ran into Gingrich again, this time he was on his Blackberry as I was exiting the Hall of States, and I just figured it was not the time to talk about Charles Djou, or anything else.
An Idea to Make Congress Less Ugly
Regardless of which party stays in the majority after November, the rules of order are often what comes into question. For forty years, the GOP complained that the Democrats manipulated the rules and kept votes open in order to get the results they desired. The Republicans followed that with similar behavior when they took over the House after 1994.
It is worth exploring the idea of a more independent Speaker of the House, meaning a speaker that is not currently representing a district. There was talk about this when the impeachment hearings were in full swing shortly after Newt Gingrich unraveled. Some thought that a Gerald Ford-type of person would give the lower house the sense of adulthood it does not often display.
If the House voted on a non-incumbent, the result would still be someone sympathetic to the majority party, but you would have a speaker that does not have to be concerned with campaigning every two years in a local district. The real ugly battles in the House are usually about rules, not policy.
Gore Vidal wrote in his autobiography Palimpsest that once a person gets elected to anything, they immediately begin to think that they might be able to get elected president. The inter-party battles to be majority whip and majority leader might slow down with a non-incumbent speaker. Maybe a speaker that has more time and less regional loyalty would conduct a fair amount of oversight. It is worth thinking about.