WSJ “The Architect” (History Favors Republicans in 2010) — Wash Post Who Runs Gov Profiles For Congressman John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Jeb Hensarling, & Mike Pence — Roll Call (History Offers Playbook for GOP Return to Power)
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!
History Favors Republicans in 2010
The 2008 election numbers are not as stark as the results.
By The Architect
Political races are about candidates and issues. But election results, in the end, are about numbers. So now that the dust is settling on the 2008 presidential race, what do the numbers tell us?
First, the predicted huge turnout surge didn’t happen. The final tally is likely to show that fewer than 128.5 million people voted. That’s up marginally from 122 million in 2004. But 17 million more people voted in 2004 than in 2000 (three times the change from 2004 to 2008).
Second, a substantial victory was won by modest improvement in the Democratic share of the vote. Barack Obama received 2.1 points more in the popular vote than President Bush received in 2004, 3.1 points more than Vice President Al Gore in 2000, and 4.6 points more than John Kerry in 2004. In raw numbers, the latest tally shows that Mr. Obama received 66.1 million votes, about 7.1 million more than Mr. Kerry.
Four out of five of these additional votes came from minorities. Mr. Obama got nearly 3.3 million more votes from African-Americans than did Mr. Kerry; 2.9 million of them were from younger blacks aged 18-29. A quarter of Mr. Obama’s improvement among blacks — 811,000 votes — came from African-Americans who voted Republican in 2004. Mr. Obama also received 2.5 million more Hispanic votes than Mr. Kerry. Over a third of these votes — 719,000 — cast ballots for Republicans in 2004.
One of the most important shifts was Hispanic support for Democrats. John McCain got the votes of 32% of Hispanic voters. That’s down from the 44% Mr. Bush won four years ago. If this trend continues, the GOP will find it difficult to regain the majority.
Mr. Obama won 4.6 million more votes in the West and 1.4 million more in the Midwest than Mr. Kerry. Mr. McCain, on the other hand, got more than 2.6 million fewer votes in the Midwest than Mr. Bush. In Ohio, for example, Mr. Obama received 32,000 fewer votes than Mr. Kerry in 2004 — but Mr. McCain got 360,000 fewer votes than Mr. Bush. That turned a 119,000 vote GOP victory in 2004 into a 206,000 vote Democratic win this year.
Then there were those who didn’t show up. There were 4.1 million fewer Republicans voting this year than in 2004. Some missing Republicans had turned independent or Democratic for this election. But most simply stayed home. Ironically for a campaign that featured probably the last Vietnam veteran to run for president, 2.7 million fewer veterans voted. There were also 4.1 million fewer voters who attend religious services more than once a week. Americans aren’t suddenly going to church less; something was missing from the campaign to draw out the more religiously observant.
In a sign Mr. Obama’s victory may have been more personal than partisan or philosophical, Democrats picked up just 10 state senate seats (out of 1,971) and 94 state house seats (out of 5,411). By comparison, when Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter in 1980, Republicans picked up 112 state senate seats (out of 1,981) and 190 state house seats (out of 5,501).
In the states this year, five chambers shifted from Republican to Democrats, while four shifted from either tied or Democratic control to Republican control. In the South, Mr. Obama had “reverse coattails.” Republicans gained legislative seats across the region. In Tennessee both the house and senate now have GOP majorities for the first time since the Civil War.
This matters because the 2010 Census could allocate as many as four additional congressional districts to Texas, two each to Arizona and Florida, and one district to each of a number of (mostly) red-leaning states, while subtracting seats from (mostly) blue-leaning states like Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania and, for the first time, California. Redistricting and reapportionment could help tilt the playing field back to the GOP in Congress and the race for the White House by moving seven House seats (and electoral votes) from mostly blue to mostly red states.
History will favor Republicans in 2010. Since World War II, the out-party has gained an average of 23 seats in the U.S. House and two in the U.S. Senate in a new president’s first midterm election. Other than FDR and George W. Bush, no president has gained seats in his first midterm election in both chambers.
Since 1966, the incumbent party has lost an average of 63 state senate and 262 state house seats, and six governorships, in a president’s first midterm election. That 2010 is likely to see Republicans begin rebounding just before redistricting is one silver lining in an otherwise dismal year for the GOP.
In politics, good years follow bad years. Republicans and Democrats have experienced both during the past 15 years. A GOP comeback, while certainly possible, won’t be self-executing and automatic. It will require Republicans to be skillful at both defense (opposing Mr. Obama on some issues) and offense (creating a compelling agenda that resonates with voters). And it will require leaders to emerge who give the right public face to the GOP. None of this will be easy. All of this will be necessary.
Published on: NOVEMBER 13, 2008
About Karl Rove
Karl Rove served as Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush from 2000–2007 and Deputy Chief of Staff from 2004–2007. At the White House he oversaw the Offices of Strategic Initiatives, Political Affairs, Public Liaison, and Intergovernmental Affairs and was Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, coordinating the White House policy making process.
Before Karl became known as “The Architect” of President Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns, he was president of Karl Rove + Company, an Austin-based public affairs firm that worked for Republican candidates, nonpartisan causes, and nonprofit groups. His clients included over 75 Republican U.S. Senate, Congressional and gubernatorial candidates in 24 states, as well as the Moderate Party of Sweden. Karl writes a weekly op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, is a Newsweek columnist and is now writing a book to be published by Simon & Schuster. Email the author at Karl@Rove.com or visit him on the web at Rove.com.
Current Position: U.S. Representative (since January 1991), House Minority Leader (since 2007)
Career History: House Majority Leader (2006 to 2007); House Education and Workforce Committee chair (2001 to 2006); House Republican Conference Chairman (1995 to 1999)
Birthday: Nov. 17, 1949, Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio; Alma Mater: Xavier College, BS, 1977
Spouse: Debbie, Religion: Roman Catholic
Why He Matters
After an earlier loss, Boehner rose from the political dead in 2006 to become House minority leader. And he has managed to survive again, despite a major leadership shuffle after big GOP losses in the 2008 elections. Boehner arrived in the House in 1990 and has long been known as a reformer. As a top lieutenant of ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), Boehner quickly claimed the House GOP Conference chairmanship. But he was forced out in 1999 after Republicans suffered a string of losses in the post-impeachment 1998 midterm elections.
Instead of leaving politics, Boehner threw himself into the chairmanship of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. By reaching across the aisle, he helped enact the landmark education overhaul known as No Child Left Behind. Boehner’s legislative successes earned him a reputation as a results-oriented strategist, and when former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) resigned amid scandal, Boehner defeated two rivals to become House Minority Leader in 2006.His challenge will be to help rebuild the tattered Republican brand from the minority on Capitol Hill.
Path to Power
Boehner grew up with 11 siblings in a two-bedroom house in Cincinnati. In high school, he played football for the legendary Gerry Faust, who would later coach at Notre Dame. Boehner was the first in his family to attend college, and he worked as a janitor to pay tuition. He graduated from Xavier University in 1977 and then moved back to Ohio to work at a small plastics and packaging business. He said he became a Republican when he paid more taxes then he earned in his first year at work. Shaw, Kelly, “Spotlight on Xavier Alum: 1977 graduate John Boehner becomes Hose of Representatives Majority Leader,” Xavier Newsletter.
He had an instant knack for business and was president of Nucite Sales Inc. from 1976 to 1990.He entered politics in 1981, serving on his local board of trustees and being elected to the Ohio State House in 1984. In 1990, Boehner sought out the Republican nomination for the Butler County-based House seat. He faced two GOP challengers in the primary: ex-Reps. Buz Lukens, the incumbent who had been convicted of having sex with a 16-year-old girl, and former Rep. Tom Kindness. Boehner won with 49 percent of the vote.
In the House, he joined the Gang of Seven Republican freshmen who assailed entrenched Democratic lawmakers for their perks, exposed the names of the 355 members with overdrafts at the House bank. He went on to attack the Congressional pay raise and uncovered “dine-and-dash” practices at the House Restaurant and illegal cash-for-stamps deals at the Post Office.
These actions endeared Boehner to Republican leaders. He became the top lieutenant for Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), helping him fundraise and draft the Contract with America. After Republicans won the majority in 1994, Gingrich pushed Boehner to the chairmanship of the Republican conference.
Boehner took his role seriously, keeping rank-and-file members on message. In 1998, he sued House ethics ranking member Jim McDermott (D-Wa.) for leaking his taped cell-phone talk with other GOP leaders about how to handle the Gingrich ethics probe to the New York Times. The long legal battle that ensued went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Boehner was eventually awarded $500,000 in damages.
But Republicans lost five House seats in the 1998 elections. In the GOP coup to oust Gingrich tha followed, Boehner lost the conference post to then-GOP Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.). Unfazed, Boehner threw himself into his work on the Education and the Workforce Employer-Employee Relations subcommittee, passing eight bills that were later adopted as the Republican healthcare platform.
In 2000, he won the chairmanship of the highly-partisan Education and the Workforce Committee. There, he worked with ideological opposites like Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) to pass President Bush’s No Child Left Behind bill over the objections of many Republicans.
House Majority Leader
When then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) was forced to step down in 2006, Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the whip at the time, positioned himself as DeLay’s successor. But Boehner threw his hat into the ring, presenting a detailed governing manifesto that he had worked on for more than a year. After Democrats reclaimed control of the House in Nov. 2006, Boehner surprised many by defeating Blunt on the second ballot.
As a leader, Boehner has been described as outgoing and less ideological than DeLay, but he is still a fierce partisan and top party fundraiser.Biographical information taken from Almanac of American Politics, 2008 Edition and CQs Politics in America 2008.
He sends “pride” emails to Republicans when they stick it to Democrats on the House floor and he distributes talking points widely, even to the secretaries who answer phones.Fairbanks, Eve, “John Boehner, Sensitive New Age Leader,” New Republic, May 21, 2007.
Despite the message discipline, Boehner wasn’t able to corral the skeptical GOP rank-and-file into supporting President Bush’s $700 billion bailout on the first vote. He faced fierce opposition from GOPers like Republican Study Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas).
Boehner hails from the deeply Republican 8th district, where industry rules and constituents are very skeptical of free trade. He is a conservative voter, supporting his party 94 percent of the time in the 110th Congress.Washington Post Votes Database.
Boehner has opposed efforts to curtail earmark spending and to outright ban privately-funded travel for lawmakers. Milbank, Dana, “Boehner Opposes Sweeping Changes in Lobbyist Work,”Washington Post, Feb. 6, 2006 In fact, he has flaunted his relationships with lobbyists, flying to events on corporate jets and staying at golf resorts with groups that have a direct stake in Congressional issues. McIntire, Mike, “New House Majority Leader Keeps Old Ties to Lobbyists,” New York Times, July 15, 2006.
Boehner also has a flare for the dramatic. This summer, he led a Republican rebellion over the House’s reluctance to vote on a comprehensive energy package. In the weeks after Congress went on its summer recess, Republicans returned to Washington from all over the country to deliver floor speeches in a darkened chamber on the importance of off-shore oil drilling, which the GOP insisted would significantly lower gas prices.
Boehner and House Republicans decided to take a risky stand against popular and Barack Obama when they unanimously opposed the new president’s $800 billion economic stimulus package approved in February 2009.
“This bill is supposed to be about jobs, jobs, jobs, and it’s turned into nothing more than spend, spend, spend,” Boehner said.Murray, Shailagh and Kane, Paul, The Washington Post, Congress Passes a Stimulus Plan, Feb. 14, 2009. In fall 2008, Boehner accepted President George W. Bush’s $700 financial bailout plan as unpalatable but necessary.He thought his rank-and-file members would do the same.
But House Minority Chief Deputy Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) proposed an alternative plan that quickly became a rallying cry for House GOPers who objected to such massive government intervention in the economy. At a White House meeting, Boehner tried to strike up a compromise by proposing federal insurance on mortgage assets combined with tax cuts on all investment gains. The suggestion was literally shouted down by other meeting members. Hulse, Carl, “Conservatives Viewed Bailout Plan as Last Straw,” New York Times, Sept. 27, 2008
Many Republicans demanded that the final plan include federal insurance for high-risk mortgages.Andrews, Edmund, “House Republicans Support a Plan that Would Insure Troubled Mortgages,” New York Times, Sept. 27, 2008. Ultimately, Boehner was able to convince enough Republicans to vote with him on the legislation, and kept his leadership post in spite of his role in the bailout vote.
Boehner is a major Republican voice in the 2009 health-care debate. He spearheaded the Republican effort in the house to oppose the creation of a government health-insurance plan. In a commentary for the Detroit News, Boehner joined another Michigan Republican, Rep. Dave Camp, to call the Democrats’ proposal “a government-run monstrosity that increases costs, reduces quality and forces as many as 114 million Americans off their current plans, according to one independent analysis.” Boehner, John and Dave Camp, “Reform Health Care without Government Takeover,” The Detroit News, July 14, 2009 “House Republicans have a plan that will reduce costs, expand access and increase the quality of care in a way we can afford,” the lawmakers wrote.
At a Glance
Current Position: U.S. Representative (since November 2000), House Minority Whip (since 2008)
Career History: House Deputy Minority Whip (2005 to 2008); House Deputy Majority Whip (2003 to 2005); U.S. House (since 2000); Virginia House of Representatives (1992 to 20000); Lawyer (1988 to 1992)
Birthday: June 6, 1963, Hometown: Richmond, Va.
Alma Mater: George Washington University, BA, 1985; College of William and Mary, JD, 1988; Columbia University, MS, 1989
Spouse: Diana, Religion: Jewish
Why He Matters
Rarely do Republicans mention Cantor without calling him a rising star. And his star is only likely to shine brighter now that he has nabbed the post of House Minority Whip. After just one term in the House, the Virginia representative was handpicked by then-House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) to serve as his deputy minority whip in 2003.
He did such a good job that many officials asked Cantor to run for Blunt’s job in 2006, but Cantor refused to challenge his boss. But when Blunt stepped down after the GOP bloodbath in the 2008 November elections, Cantor was a natural successor. Cantor has been hailed as an expert vote counter and highly skilled fundraiser. Cantor’s strong conservative bent has turned him into a spokesman for the party’s right wing, which says his presence at the bargaining table is an indication their concerns will be heard.
Cantor was rumored to be on Arizona Sen. John McCain (R)’s vice presidential short-list in 2008 and raised over $60 million for Republican candidates in the 2008 cycle. (1) But that was not to be, and Cantor should have his hands full figuring out how to put the House GOP on the road to a comeback. He is looking to former House speaker and conservative firebrand Newt Gingrich (Ga.) as an example. “I talk to Newt on a regular basis because he was in the position that we are in: in the extreme minority,” he said after the House passed President Obama’s economic stimulus package for the second time on Feb. 13, 2009, with not a single House GOPer supporting it. (2)
Path to Power
Cantor grew up in a wealthy family in Richmond, Va. His parents were both involved in the community; his father sat on the Housing Authority Board, and his mother was on the boards at the Family and Children’s Trust Fund and the Science Museum of Virginia. As a student at George Washington University, Cantor interned for then-Rep. Thomas Bliley (R-Va.), serving as his driver for his 1982 campaign. He went on to chair some of Bliley’s re-election efforts. In his senior year, he worked for a member of the Virginia House of Delegates.
After earning a law degree from William and Mary Law School and a master’s degree in real estate from Columbia University, he took a job at his family’s real-estate firm in Richmond. When his old state House boss retired in 1991, Cantor ran to replace him. He out-organized and out-raised his rivals even though he was only 28 years old.
In the state House, Cantor frequently sided with business, passing bills that limited the amount of money Virginia-based Philip Morris was required to pay in tobacco lawsuits and killing legislation that would have reduced telemarketing calls. In 2000, he decided to run for Bliley’s seat after his House retirement. He faced a challenging primary from a state senator who charged that Cantor was an elitist who didn’t understand the problems of his constituents. Cantor struck back, out-spending his rival by almost four to one.
Just weeks before the election, voters began receiving phone calls highlighting Cantor’s Judaism. The calls tightened the race significantly — Cantor won by only 263 votes.3) Cantor prevailed in the general election with 67 percent of the vote.
In 2002, Blunt handpicked Cantor to serve as chief deputy whip at the end of his first term. According to Cantor, the selection was a total surprise. He told the Weekly Standard that when Blunt called to offer him the job, he thought he was calling about an opening on the Ways and Means committee. (3) Like many Republicans, Cantor was caught up in the Jack Abramoff scandals. In 2003, he and other Republicans signed on to a letter to Interior Secretary Gale Norton opposing a plan by Jena Band of Choctaw Indians to open a casino nearby another one owned by the Coushattas, an Abramoff client.
Abramoff also raised $30,000 for Cantor, who has since given $10,000 to charity. He had even named a sandwich at his kosher deli after. (4) In 2005, Blunt temporarily took over the Majority Leader post because former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) stepped down due to a Texas campaign finance lawsuit. Cantor became the Whip in everything but name.
In early 2006, Blunt ran for (and expected to win) the Majority Leader slot, so Cantor was favored to move up to Whip. But Blunt lost to Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) and kept his old job, leaving Cantor in his current position. But officials rewarded Cantor’s talents by naming him to of the House GOP’s “battleground” fundraising committee, which raised $25 million for Republicans in tight races in 2006, almost $4 million more than 2004. In 2007, he was National Republican Congressional Committee finance chairman. Though he has faced only nominal opposition for his own seat since 2000, he has raised more than $9 million for his personal campaign coffers.
Cantor is a talented vote-counter. In 2007, he managed to keep most Republicans from supporting a Democratic war funding bill. Only two Republicans supported the legislation, though 17 GOPers had voted for a non-binding resolution opposing the surge the week before. (5) In another instance, Cantor convinced many rank-and-file GOPers to support a campaign finance bill targeting independent 527 groups and more earmark transparency.
Cantor was a prodigious fundraiser in the 2008 cycle. He, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) launched a fundraising program to protect 17 incumbents and to win five open-seats. More than 50 GOP members agreed to donate at least $1,000 and to host a fundraiser on the candidates’ behalf. (6) Cantor personally campaigned in between 80 and 90 districts. Four of his “young guns” unseated incumbents and three secured open seats. (7)
Cantor got his first taste of presidential politics in 2008. He endorsed McCain early, and proved to be one of his best Congressional surrogates. He was also floated as a potential running mate, a move supported by several of the party’s more conservative. (8) His opposition to the bailout bill and his prodigious fundraising made him the obvious choice for Minority Whip once Blunt stepped down. He ran unopposed, and is widely popular.
In his new position, Cantor hopes to recreate Republican image. He would like conservatives to think more practically and rely less on ideology. Additionally, he would like less acrimony with Democrats and bolder new ideas, he told The Washington Post. (7) Cantor was also encouraged to seek Virginia’s open Senate seat in 2008, but he wasn’t interested. (9)
Cantor is a darling of the party’s right wing — he has been labeled as a standout leader by the American Conservative Union, who gave him a 100 percent score on votes in 2007. (10) He voted with his party 93 percent of the time in the 110th Congress. (11)
The Republican has focused on lowering taxes for families and making America more business friendly. He is also a staunch supporter of Israel and opposed to illegal immigration. In 2008, he proposed a database that would allow police to check whether a suspect is an illegal immigrant.“(12)
One of Cantor’s major House objectives has been thwarting Democratic plans and needling that party’s leaders. He introduced an amendment in 2007 that drew attention to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) request to use an air force jet to fly home to California. During a minimum wage debate in 2008, he gave out stickers with smiling tuna to highlight what he called an exemption for a tuna plant for a company based in Pelosi’s district.
Cantor is a strong fiscal conservative. He took a major gamble when he urged all House Republicans to solidly oppose President Obama’s economic stimulus package, which passed the House without a single Republican vote for the second time on Feb. 13, 2009. Though Cantor voted in favor of the $700 financial bailout bill when it was initially proposed (one of 65 Republicans to do so), he quickly became one of the party’s top advocates for an alternative, favored by many conservatives, that would have had the government insure all mortgages. (13) He was one of the top negotiators for the proposal, which the Treasury opposed. (14)
The package finally passed by Congress extended expiring tax breaks for businesses and required tighter supervision of the way the $700 billion was spent. (15) As a former real-estate developer, Cantor has received donations throughout his time in office from JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, along with large Virginia companies like Dominion Resources and Philip Morris. (16) Cantor voted with Democrats on a bill that would charge a 90 percent tax on all bonuses. The move angered many of his fellow legislators, who accused Cantor of teaming with Democrats to sponsor a potentially unconstitutional bill. (17)
As a member of the plum House Ways and Means Committee, Cantor has advocated for reducing taxes on businesses and families. He told the Weekly Standard in October 2007, “I don’t think we came to Washington to fix everybody’s problems.” He said he’s worried that Republicans have lost their “fiscal brand.(18)
One of his first legislative acts was to push a tax credit of $1,000 per child for all parents with school-age children. In 2006, he introduced legislation that offered tax cuts for those who made contributions to a high-deductible health savings account. He has proposed tax cuts on hedge fund gains. In 2007, he pushed for a bill that would have provided tax credits to those who invest in rail infrastructure.
Cantor is the sole Jewish Republican in the House, and he is the highest beneficiary of pro-Israel campaign dollars. He has used these connections to bridge the divide between wealthy Israeli donors and Republicans, pushing the party to take a stronger stand on Israel. As a member of the House’s terrorism task force, he has advocated for a tougher stance on Syria, Iran and Iraq.
Cantor was hand-picked by Blunt for a leadership position, and John Boehner touts their close relationship, claiming that he is a “mentor” to Cantor. His new chief deputy whip is Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)
Cantor was one of Arizona Sen. John McCain’s most vocal and visible supporters. He raised $10 million for his presidential campaign, reaching out particularly to Jewish and pro-Israel voters. (19) Cantor has said he seeks advice from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich “all the time.”
In his first term in office, he grew close to senior Blunt aides Mildred Webber and Greg Hartley, who grew to like Cantor and recommended him to Blunt. (20)
Cantor’s wife Diana used to work for Goldman Sachs under Robert Rubin, the future Clinton administration Treasury secretary now under fire for leading Citigroup into financial problems. She currently sits on the boards of Domino’s Pizza and Media General, a company which owns the Richmond Times-Dispatch. (21)
“The Third-Term Panic”, November 7, 1874 Thomas Nast
Current Position: U.S. Representative (since Jan 2003)President of the Republican Study Committee (since 2006)
Career History: Treasurer of the Republican Study Committee (2005 to 2006); Member of the House of Representatives (2002 to present)
Birthday: May 29, 1957, Hometown: Stephenville, Tex.
Alma Mater: Texas A&M University, B.A., 1979; University of Texas at Austin, J.D., 1982
Spouse: Melissa; Religion: Episcopalian
Why He Matters
Hensarling’s nickname around Congress is “budget nanny.”Miller, John, “Rep. Budget Reform,” National Review, Dec. 31, 2008.(1)Miller, John, “Rep. Budget Reform,” National Review, Dec. 31, 2008. The four-term Texan is a rising star in the Republican Party due in a large part to his efforts to promote Conservative ideals. He is an ardent proponent of balancing the budget and cutting wasteful spending. He has opposed his own leaders on a handful of high-profile issues, but these campaigns often generate more buzz than results.
In 2002, Hensarling created the Washington Waste Watchers, a Congressional working group that monitors fraud and fiscal excess. He joined the Republican Study Committee, a conservative caucus with about 100 Republican members, in 2005. He was elected chairman of the group in 2006. Hensarling said the loss of a G.O.P. majority in both Houses of Congress is a sign Americans want Republicans to return to their small-government roots.
He has said he’s confident having Democrats in power will only highlight his party’s virtues. “Like mosquitoes in a nudist colony,” he said after the 2006 elections, “Republicans will have more than enough opportunities to show the voters we deserve our conservative brand back.”
Path to Power
Hensarling was born May 29, 1957, in Stephenville, Tex. As a child, he helped his father on the family poultry farm near College Station. The work convinced him that he did not want to become a farmer. Instead, he decided to try his hand at politics. His earliest political memory, when he was 7, is of knocking on doors with his father on behalf of Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign. Supporting Republicans stuck. Hensarling spent many high school afternoons organizing Republican political events. He was also an Eagle Scout, the highest rank of Boy Scout.
He received his undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University, where he was GOP precinct captain, and his J.D. from the University of Texas law school in 1982.After passing the Texas bar, Hensarling practiced law in San Antonio for two years before returning to politics as a staffer for Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Tex.). He ran Gramm’s victorious 1990 campaign and was then appointed executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which Gramm chaired.
Hensarling returned to Texas in 1993 as spokesman for Green Mountain Energy, a local utility. He left the company in 2001 to found the Family Support Assurance, a company that aims to modernize child support payments. That year, a statewide redistricting divided the district where Hensarling lived into two. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.), the sitting representative, chose to run for the smaller district and Hensarling decided to pursue the newly opened position.
He defeated four other Republicans in the primary, winning 54 percent of the vote. In the general election, he was opposed by Ron Chapman, a county judge. Chapman, who shares a name with a popular Texas disc jockey, ran as a loyal Democrat who could reach across the aisle. But Hensarling attacked him, accusing him of being a “judge softie” because he twice freed a man charged with attempted murder.
Chapman tried to paint Hensarling as an extremist, but his message failed. Voters were wooed by a stream of famous Republican endorsements, including those from President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Chapman’s campaign was also hurt when his disc-jockey namesake held a press conference to announce his support of Hensarling.
Hensarling was elected with 58 percent of the vote. He has been easily reelected since, winning each time with more than 60 percent of the vote. He quickly became a rising star in Washington. He was the Republican Study Committee (RSC) treasurer in 2005, a position that allowed him to advocate for cutting budget spending. In 2006, he defeated Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), 57 to 42, for RSC chairman. When Hensarling won, he called on his fellow Congressional leaders to “do a better job of advocacy for our party.” He hopes this position will enable him to unify the party and reassert conservative fiscal values.(3)
Hensarling has long aspired to a top position in the Republican House Conference. He considered running for Conference Chairman in November 2008 and probably had enough votes to win. However, he refused to challenge his close friend Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), whose candidacy was orchestrated at the last minute by Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Oh.). According to Politico, Boehner called Pence shortly after the election and convinced him to run in an effort to insulate himself from attacks by his “biggest detractors in the conservative wing of the party,” which would include Hensarling.(4) Hensarling has expressed interest in eventually running for the Senate.(5)
Hensarling is a solid conservative who sometimes struggles to balance his far-right values with the party’s more moderate legislation. He has voted with his party 90 percent of the time in the 110th Congress.
The Republican Party’s loss of seats has given Hensarling a strong voice as a representative of the conservative wing of the party. He has been a prominent advocate for a return to limited government, calling on his party to fight earmarks and big budget deficits.
He has said that the party’s huge losses are a call for it to return to its roots. “There is nothing quite like a two-by-four smacked across your head to get attention,” he told the New York Times.
$700 billion bailout
Hensarling was one of the primary opponents of the initial September financial industry bailout, which he called “a slippery slope to socialism. (7) He opposed both the scope of the program and its focus, arguing that any stimulus efforts should aim to help Main Street. He was also concerned that the initial measure did not incorporate enough safeguards to prevent banks and other financial institutions from requesting more money than they need.
He led the effort to defeat the initial legislation in the House in late September, and was a member of the committee that developed the compromise legislation. “We know we are not going to get everything we want,” Hensarling told the Dallas Morning News. “If they want House Republicans to support it, we need something more akin to a work-out than a bailout, with more taxpayer protections.(8)
He also opposed the bailout of auto companies in December 2008, arguing that some companies need to fail in order to restructure themselves into more efficient, financially viable organizations.”
Hensarling made cutting taxes his top priority as a candidate, and he has continued to advocate for those changes as a member of the House and a founder of the Washington Waste Watchers. As a member of the RSC, he advocated spending discipline in budget legislation. He sponsored a measure that would have required earmarks to be accompanied in spending bills with the names of their authors and proposed a constitutional amendment that would link the growth in federal spending to the rate of economic growth.
These moves often put him in conflict with the Republican House Appropriations Committee members. The challenge was highlighted when the party was in the majority. In one instance, Hensarling struggled to convince Republican leaders to include provisions to keep costs low in the 2002 Medicare and prescription drug bill. He also led the well-publicized but ultimately ineffective effort to offset all Hurricane Katrina spending with budget cuts.
Hensarling is a strong supporter of off-shore drilling. In June 2008, he drafted a petition, signed by 144 House members, that called on Congress not to renew the bans on drilling off the coast of Florida, California and several other states. His petition was almost signed by enough members to prevent an override of President George W. Bush’s veto on legislation that would continue the off-shore ban.Ota, Alan, “Hensarling Looks for Insurance on Drilling,” Congressional Quarterly Today. Aug. 25, 2008(10)
Hensarling’s mentor is Gramm, who made a career of trying to hold down federal spending. He first met Gramm as a student at Texas A&M University, when he took the former Senator’s class. In 2003, he worked with fellow Republicans Tom Feeney and Mario Diaz-Balart to form Washington Waste Watchers to try and root out excessive spending and corruption. He is very close with new House Mike Pence (R-Ind.), the new House Republican Conference chairman.
At a Glance
Current Position: House Republican Conference Chairman (since November 2008)
Career History: Chairman,Republican Study Committee, 2005 to 2006; Member, U.S. House of Representatives, since 2001; Radio Host, Mike Pence Show, 1994 to 2000
Birthday: June 7, 1959, Hometown: Columbus, Ind.
Alma Mater: Hanover College, B.A., 1980; Indiana University, J.D, 1986
Spouse: Karen, Religion: Protestant
Why He Matters
Though he’s now one of the most prominent Republicans in the House, Pence never forgot his radio roots. As chair of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), Pence worked to promote the conservative agenda. He is a popular guest on television and radio and he knows how to use a press conference to his advantage. Friends have nicknamed him “Rush Limbaugh on decaf.” (1)
Pence’s profile will rise in the 111th Congress as he assumes the title of House GOP Conference chairman, a post to which he was elected in November 2008 after Republicans were badly defeated in the elections. As the face of a new House GOP leadership, Pence will be charged with resurrecting Republicans’ battered brand and trying to sell it to a broad swath of skeptical voters. But the new role seems tailor-made for the media-savvy Republican, who has challenged the party leadership in the past. “If you can’t communicate, you can’t govern,” he told Biz Voice magazine in 2007. (2)
Pence was first elected to Congress with 51 percent of the vote in 2000, and has been re-elected easily since. He was named Conservative of the Year by Human Events in 2007. (3)
Path to Power
Pence was born in Columbus, Ind., one of six children. As a teenager, he was a supporter of President John F. Kennedy, in large part because, like Kennedy, he was raised Catholic. Pence received his undergraduate degree from Hanover College in 1980. It was at Hanover that he experienced a conversion of sorts — from Democrat sympathizer to Republican, and from Catholic to evangelical protestant. He attended Indiana University law school, where he received his J.D. in 1986.
Pence started working as an attorney, but quickly found his way into the political spotlight. He ran unsuccessfully for the House seat he now holds in 1988 and 1990, losing both times to Rep. Phil Sharp (D-Ind.), a moderate Democrat.
After his second defeat, Pence wrote a piece called “Confessions of a Negative Campaigner” for the Indiana Policy Review. In it, he quoted St. Paul and apologized for accusing his opponent of shady business dealings. “It is wrong, quite simply, to squander a candidate’s priceless moment in history,” he wrote. “It seems more grievous that I left my supporters so few clues as to how I would have governed differently.” (4)
After his second defeat, Pence took a break from campaigning, but not from politics. He was the president of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, a conservative think tank, and the radio host of “The Mike Pence Show, a right-leaning talk program that was syndicated across the state from 1994 to 2000.
When then-Rep. David McIntosh (R-Ind.) left his seat to run for governor in 2000, Pence jumped into the House race. He defeated five other candidates in the Republican primary. In the general election, he was opposed by Robert Rock, an attorney and the son of a former lieutenant governor. At the last minute Bill Frazier, a former Republican state senator, also entered the race as an independent.
Rock attacked Pence for his lack of military service and Frazier argued that he would offer more relief for middle class families. But Pence’s call for across-the-board tax cuts and Medicare reform resonated with voters. He won with 51 percent of the vote.
Pence quickly became one of the party’s leading conservative voices, railing against the dangers of big government. In 2005, he was elected unanimously as chairman of the RSC, a conservative caucus with about 100 members. In that position, he vowed to put more Conservative federal judges on the bench, limit abortion rights, and cut spending and entitlement programs like Medicaid.
Pence ran for House minority leader in 2006, arguing that the party needed to return to its “small government ideology.” However, Pence couldn’t overcome Minority Leader John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) popularity and his own reputation for opposing Republican legislation. He lost, 168 to 27. (5)
In 2008, former rival Boehner convinced him to run for GOP Conference chairman. According to Politico.com, Pence had promised Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) he would stay out of the race, but Pence changed his mind. He ran unopposed. (6) According to the Almanac of American Politics, some politicians have speculated that Pence would like to run for Senate one day.Almanac of American Politics, 2008 edition(7)
Pence is one of the most outspoken conservatives in the Republican Party. He is a particular champion of controlling the federal budget and cutting government spending, and also supports free markets and “traditional” values. His decisions are guided by his religion — he tells people “I am a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.” (8)
Pence voted with his party 91 percent of the time during the 110th Congress.Washington Post Votes Database (9)Washington Post Votes Database However, he has opposed his party on some key measures when they don’t conform to his political beliefs. He voted against President George W. Bush’s education bill, the Medicare/prescription drug bill, and a bankruptcy bill because it included a measure in support of abortion rights. (7)
Pence gained notice (and was attacked by many colleagues) when he challenged former Majority Leader Tom Delay’s (R-Tex.) assertion that it would be impossible to make up for spending in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina with budget cuts elsewhere. At the meeting, Pence proposed cutting tax credits to the poor, support for those with AIDS, and Medicaid, saying those offsets would save the government $500 billion over ten years. Though the leadership was furious, “operation offset” changed the debate in Washington, and ushered in a renewed effort to limit government spending.
Pence was at the forefront of the 2006 immigration debate. He worked with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) to draft a plan that would appeal to hard-line Republicans and proponents of a guest worker program. The legislation would have required illegal aliens to leave the country and then return on a two-year visa, which could be extended if the recipient passed an English proficiency test.
The measure also proposed creating a privately-run database that would match immigrants with jobs companies were unable to fill with Americans. (10) The proposal was seen as political blasphemy by many in his base. Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan likened Pence’s involvement with the plan to a scene of betrayal in the movie The Godfather. Team America, a conservative political action committee, launched a Web site feature called “Pence Watch.” (11) The measure ultimately failed.
In 2008, Pence surprised conservatives by supporting a federal shield law that would have protected journalists from revealing their sources to federal officials. “What’s a conservative like me doing passing a law that helps reporters?” Pence asked during a House debate. He explained “the only check on government power in real time is a free and independent press … it’s about protecting the public’s right to know. (12)
Pence works closely with other conservative members of the House. He is especially close with Hensarling and Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.). He worked with Rep. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) on the 2005 federal shield law to protect journalists and has allied himself with prominent Senators such as Hutchison.
Pence was the only House member to file a lawsuit charging that the McCain-Feingold campaign Finance law was unconstitutional. At the time, he said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) “was so deep in bed with the Democrats his feet are coming out of the bottom of the sheets.”Citizens Club for Growth (13) .
“The Third Term” Thomas Nast, 1875
Nast was the first to use an elephant as the symbol of the Rebublican party. The cartoon shows the Republican elephant clamoring for a third presidential term for U.S. Grant.
History Offers Playbook for GOP Return to Power
May 26, 2009
By Matt Mackowiak
Special to Roll Call
A charismatic Democratic president is elected, winning the White House by about 6 points, sweeping into Washington with a national mandate, new energy and promises of change.
No, the year isn’t 2008. The year is 1992, and it provides a significant historical example for the Republican Party to consider if it wants to return to power from its minority status.
The media is quick to report the death of national political parties. However, American political history shows that the cycles of political party power are never permanent. Watershed midterm Congressional elections occurred in 1966, 1982, 1994 and 2006, and may very well happen again in 2010.
For national Republicans, the example of 1994 is particularly instructive. But the story does not begin and end with the famed “Contract With America.” In fact, the story began in 1993.
That year, the GOP understood that it had to turn the tide and start winning again to help generate positive momentum and excite donors and volunteers about the future.
This momentum started with Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison’s special election victory to fill the Senate seat vacated by Lloyd Bentsen (D), who had been nominated by President Bill Clinton to be Treasury secretary, and it continued with the GOP fielding strong candidates in the two off-year gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey.
In Virginia, the Republican Party ran George Allen, who had served in the Virginia House of Delegates, holding the same seat as Thomas Jefferson. Allen’s opponent, state Attorney General Mary Sue Terry (D), held an early 29-point lead in the polls and had a huge fundraising advantage. Allen overcame the huge deficit, connecting with voters by pledging to abolish parole to combat surging crime in the state, while Terry offered only gun control as a solution. Allen ran a smart, effective campaign and won with the largest margin (17.4 points) in the state since 1961.
In the New Jersey gubernatorial race, the Republicans ran a moderate candidate, Christie Todd Whitman. She had worked in the Nixon White House and at the Republican National Committee, was an elected official in Somerset County, and was president of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. She had run a surprisingly competitive race against then-Sen. Bill Bradley (D) in 1990 (earning 47 percent of the vote) and benefitted from her increased name identification in the 1993 campaign against the incumbent, Gov. James Florio (D).
As Whitman’s campaign for governor began, Florio had low approval ratings (20 percent) after increasing the state’s sales tax, raising income taxes by $2.8 billion and not adequately responding to the state’s worsening economic problems. Whitman, who was pro choice, advocated for major tax cuts to bring the state back from the economic brink. Whitman made her campaign about the unpopular incumbent and won a very narrow victory, by only 1 point (26,000 votes out of more than 2.48 million cast), becoming the first female governor in the state’s history.
Additionally, Republicans won back the mayor’s office in New York with the crime-fighting Rudy Giuliani. Those four victories gave the Republican Party confidence and momentum nationally.
But three successful statewide campaigns do not automatically result in a watershed midterm Congressional victory for the minority party.
Republicans were counting on Clinton to overreach politically, and he obliged. Clinton ran out two unsuccessful nominees for attorney general, pledged to overturn the prohibition on gays in the military and pushed for major reform of health care by instituting a single-payer national health care program, nicknamed “HillaryCare,” which a majority of Americans opposed. The last of these political missteps proved to be the most damaging, as conservatives, the American Medical Association, and the health insurance industry organized opposition to ultimately kill the proposal in Congress late in 1994.
Clinton’s weakened political position, coupled with the momentum generated by three important political campaign victories by Republicans, provided the ideal environment for the GOP to make their case to the voters.
Only six weeks before the 1994 midterm elections, Republicans released the “Contract With America,” a document that detailed the specific actions that they would take if they were given control of Congress. This plan was developed by Reps. Newt Gingrich (Ga.), Bill Paxon (N.Y.), Dick Armey (Texas), Robert Walker (Pa.), Tom DeLay (Texas), John Boehner (Ohio) and Jim Nussle (Iowa) and built on ideas first suggested by President Ronald Reagan in his 1985 State of the Union address. The contract included only “60 percent issues,” meaning policy positions that at least 60 percent of American voters agreed with. Specifically, this included shrinking the size of government, lowering taxes and regulation to stimulate private enterprise, passing anti-crime measures, and providing tort and welfare reform. The plan was signed by every nonincumbent GOP House and Senate candidate that year, except House challenger Sam Brownback (Kan.) and two Senate candidates.
The 1994 election took Democrats from an 82-seat majority in the House to a 28-seat minority, ushering in Gingrich as the new Republican Speaker.
The elements that were required for this political sea change were creating positive momentum for the GOP, policy overreach by the Democratic president and Congress, and a viable, clear policy alternative offered by Republicans.
Although Republicans may find themselves in a weaker position in 2009 than they did in 1993, many of these elements will likely exist for the 2010 midterms if the GOP learns the lessons of 1993 and 1994.
Matt Mackowiak is a political and communications consultant and former press secretary to two Republican Senators.
Correction: May 27, 2009
The opinion piece misstated the Republican candidates who did not sign the “Contract With America” in 1994. Sam Brownback (R), then running for a House seat in Kansas, joined two GOP Senate candidates in not signing it.
“The Sacred Elephant” March 8, 1884, p. 149
In this Harper’s Weekly cover illustration, political cartoonist Thomas Nast (lower-right) presents to the nation the grand, gigantic Republican Elephant (a partisan symbol the artist popularized). Published months before the Republican nominating convention, the cartoon warns delegates not to choose a corrupt standard-bearer, i.e., James Blaine of Maine. The belt around the elephant reads “Civil Service Reform,” and the words in the caption, “pure” and “clean,” were often used to describe government operating under the merit system of civil service reform, as opposed to the corruption allegedly encouraged by the patronage (or “spoils”) system of government service.
NPR: GOP History (Audio)
New Majority: Moderation and Courage: Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.
PBS: McCain’s Running Mate Sarah Palin Makes GOP History, Sep 4, 2008
NBRA: Black Republican History