Monday, April 11, 2005

Shays vs. DeLay

Congressman Distances Himself from Majority Leader

You've probably noticed all the press Rep. Christopher Shays (R-4) has been getting this weekend. His quote, if you missed it:

"Tom's conduct is hurting the Republican Party, is hurting this Republican majority and it is hurting any Republican who is up for re-election," Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn., told The Associated Press in an interview, calling for Delay to step down as majority leader. (AP)

Here's another:

"He is on the thinnest of ice as far as I'm concerned," said Shays, who noted that the conservative Texan has been reprimanded three times by the House ethics committee. "That is disquieting. It raises huge questions that Democrats have a right to raise." (Urban)

Wow. Shays has been critical of DeLay before, but this is pretty strong. He could be seen as actually encouraging the Democrats to attack (which they will). We can safely assume that DeLay won't be coming to Greenwich to campaign for Shays anytime soon.

What's Shays up to? Is this part of his political plan?

[Scott McLean, a professor of politics at Quinnipiac University] said that Shays is doing the smart thing by initiating a pre-emptive strike.

"I would think he would be crazy not to, given his political situation," McLean said. "He's not going to score any points by embracing DeLay, and there is no love lost between them." (Urban)

As we've already seen from an analysis of two recent District 4 elections, Shays's district is changing rapidly. He's been pegged by Democrats as one of the Republicans most likely to lose in 2006--but unlike Rob Simmons, who has toed the party line in exchange for a steady stream of cash, Shays has broken from DeLay and the conservatives in the party.

Is running against his own party the only way Shays can win in 2006? DeLay and GOP conservatives like him are not popular here, to be sure. Tellingly, Shays is acting less like a typical Republican congressman and more like popular governor Jodi Rell: strong on ethics, moderate on social issues, and prudent on fiscal matters (Social Security). If it works for Rell, why not for Shays?

It's a risky gamble. The Republican leadership controls an unimaginable amount of campaign cash: Shays is risking losing his funding. Of course, he represents one of the richest districts in the country, so funding might not be a huge issue.

Of course, voters might decide that they want an actual Democrat in Congress instead of a Republican who sometimes reminds them of one. In a race which revolves around figuring out which candidate is less like Tom DeLay and the Congressional Republicans... won't Congressional Republican Shays come out a loser? That's the biggest risk of all.

Sources
"GOP congressman says DeLay should step down as House majority leader." Associated Press 10 April 2005.

Urban, Peter. "Shays: DeLay on thinnest ice." Connecticut Post 10 April 2005.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think the best quote was this:

"Do I think Tom DeLay will be the majority leader by the end of this term? No," Shays said. "I don't think Tom DeLay is going to survive. He goes to the edge and he goes beyond . . . Even knowing there's a microscope on him, he continues to do these things."

[Greenwich Times, April 10]

That's definitely laying down the gauntlet on this. Shays is betting he will last and DeLay won't. Otherwise, Shays will be stripped of any power by DeLay.

I think Diane Farrell or whoever runs against Shays has a great line for 2006: "My opponent and I agree on one thing: the Republican leadership is embarassing and corrupt."

The kicker is that a Democrat can do something about it. Shays is in no position to change the Republican leadership - but a Democrat in his place could potentially tip the scales of the House.

And by the way, where is Rell in all of this? Has she backed up Shays? Or is she quiet? If ethics are going to be her strong point, she should ask Simmons to return his DeLay money, and ask Simmons to take back his money from the DeLay defense fund.

Genghis Conn said...

anon.,

Even if DeLay is replaced, the new Majority Leader will doubtless be one of DeLay's cronies. Shays really can't win there, which is why I think this is entirely about his re-election. He's not going to have any power regardless.

Rell has been nothing but quiet on national issues. It would be nice to see her say something, but perhaps she feels it isn't her place.

Conn-Tiki said...

The success of whether this attempt to distance himself from DeLay works is dependent on whether the rest of the party follows his lead. If so, he looks like the vanguard of reform and sense in the party. If not, he looks like a craven coward looking to carve out political advantage by breaking from his party's ranks.

As someone else said, Majority Leader Roy Blount is still a lot worse than Minority Leader Tom DeLay.