OMT One Man's Trash...from Norman Leahy



Thursday, August 24, 2006 :::
 

Fissures in the Base

Here are there, bloggers are beginning to comment on the humbling defeat of Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski in that state's recent GOP primary.

Pasting is more like it.

Is this a sign of impending doom for the GOP nationally this November?

Not really. Murkowski's loss has far more to do with local politics than a national, anti-incumbent mood. However, this item in today's Wall Street Journal regarding what appears to be a growing split between business groups and the GOP over immigration contains a couple of examples of congressional behavior that ought to give someone pause:

In the long run, some Republicans worry the party is turning off an important part of the base by ignoring -- and in some cases targeting -- business owners. Earlier this year, Cyndi Smallwood, who owns a landscaping company in Riverside, Calif., met with Rep. Gary Miller (R., Calif.) and told him she has trouble finding workers, even with the high prevailing wages -- about $34 an hour for skilled workers and $14 for unskilled workers. Mr. Miller reacted with disbelief.

After Ms. Smallwood recounted the exchange in a Los Angeles Times article, Mr. Miller shot back with a mock "help wanted" notice in local newspapers naming Ms. Smallwood and giving her company's phone number and address. "Want to make up to $34/hour?" the ad asked, adding that Mr. Miller "doesn't buy" Ms. Smallwood's argument. "So he's helping her find legal U.S. resident workers, through ads like this, to prove amnesty for illegal aliens is not the answer."

Pundits and bloggers picked up on the discussion, which Mr. Miller continued on the John and Ken Show, a radio program. Ms. Smallwood said that for two months her phone and fax were clogged with people criticizing and threatening her. "I never knew American people could be so angry," says Ms. Smallwood, a Republican who had voted for Mr. Miller but won't do so this fall. A spokesman for Mr. Miller says he has no regrets about the incident.

Hmm. Now there's a winning strategy -- holding a constituent up to ridicule is bound to get at least a couple of votes.

But then there is also this approach to wining hearts and minds:

Christmas-tree grower Arlene Frelk, of Merrillan, Wis., says she was unsuccessful recently when trying to meet in Washington with Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R., Wis.) to discuss immigration. Ms. Frelk, a Republican, did meet with a Sensenbrenner aide; she came to Washington as part of a "fly-in" organized by the American Agri-Women and wanted to tell the lawmaker that the House-passed immigration bill he sponsored would harm her business.

On the way home, she says she and her daughter saw the Judiciary Committee chairman at the airport baggage claim. When they approached him, Ms. Frelk says, Mr. Sensenbrenner told her that "this is his free time and he didn't want to be bothered" and walked away.

"We're very upset with him, of course," Ms. Frelk says. "I don't think he's reacting in the typical Republican way that works with constituents and listens to them and tries to keep business in Wisconsin."

Mr. Sensenbrenner says he doesn't respond to constituent complaints when he is out in public and holds more than 100 town-hall meetings a year to give voters a chance to address him. He says he isn't worried about upsetting business people with his stance on immigration. "The American public by an overwhelming margin supports the House approach over the Senate approach," he says.

Sensenbrenner is a modern day Edmund Burke...in Marie Antoinette drag.

Of course, business interests generally will continue to support the GOP nationally because the Democratic alternative is, so far at least, even more unappealing. But if incumbents continue to treat their constituents as dolts and interlopers, the case for a pure, anti-incumbent vote becomes much easier to make.



::: posted by Norman Leahy at 8/24/2006 0 comments





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