"I consider myself a candidate" for the chairmanship, said Johnson, who is up for re-election to her 5th District seat in November. She said she would run for the chairmanship if there is a wide-open race, which seems likely. But, she said, if longtime colleague Rep. E. Clay Shaw Jr., R-Fla., becomes the consensus choice, she will back him.
The position of Ways and Means chairman historically has been filled by hard-nosed, authoritarian leaders, and Thomas fell squarely into that category. (Lightman)
Johnson, on the other hand, has spent time cultivating her image as a nice old moderate granny--sort of like Jodi Rell without the teeth.
But Johnson's bid could present other complications. McCrery, chairman of the Ways and Means' Social Security subcommittee, is an ally of newly elected Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Johnson had hoped to win favor by declaring herself an early supporter of Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., to succeed Tom DeLay, R-Texas, as House majority leader last month. But Blunt lost to Boehner. (Lightman)
So in other words, forget it. The atrocious and befuddling Medicare bill, which Democrats could make a centerpiece of their campaign this fall, could also be a drag on a Johnson candidacy, although the fact that she's not in step with the leadership ideologically will probably hurt her more than anything else.
And there's the problem with being a Connecticut Republican in Congress. To survive here, Republicans need to be much more moderate, especially on social issues, than their comrades from other parts of the country. The most conservative Connecticut Republican in Congress is Rob Simmons, who would probably be a liberal Democrat in Texas.
This is a great strategy for being re-elected, but it stinks if a Connecticut Republican wants to move up the leadership ladder. Can you imagine Chris Shays as part of the Republican leadership?
That brings up the question of what will happen should Johnson not get the chair, which now seems likely. She may decide to throw in the towel in 2008, which is what everyone is half-expecting anyway. If she did become chair, she'd probably stay in Congress another six years.
Something to watch next year, should both Johnson and the GOP win in November.
Lightman, David. "Johnson Aspires To Lofty Position." Hartford Courant 7 March, 2006.