Similar to John McCain, as soon as the financial crisis hit, Dennis Shulman's chances seemed to dwindle. Representative Scott Garrett performed better, in a more hostile environment, because he actually represented the views of the vast majority of our District at a critical juncture. On whether or not the bailout should happen, Garrett was in his element in opposing it.
With a staff that kept him in front of the cameras, Garrett went from the obscure Northeast Congressman voting against the Voting Rights Act and extensions of unemployment benefits, to a leader speaking to the American people. The American people were with him in opposing the bailout, and obviously so was the District.
Now, we get to find out what Garrett's made of, and what kind of Representative we actually have.
In the past, Garrett has been excessively partisan and hyper-critical of bi-partisanship. He's also wasted a lot of time proposing going-nowhere legislation. And let's not forget all of the misrepresenting the facts on issues, which has led to open ridicule within the press and on the House floor. This has made it difficult for us as a District to have a voice that is listened to on the Hill; whether we needed AMT relief or transit funds.
The bailout debate has likely changed that; and as odd as it is to write this about someone who was in the bottom 5.5% of influence a short time ago, Garrett seems to have political capital.
How long that lasts will depend on Garrett and Garrett alone.
In essence, Garrett needs to return to Washington and make the decision as to whether he is going to play well with others. Garrett has the potential to be the leading conservative voice on the Hill, however, there's a pragmatic way to do that and an ideological one. Does he work toward sensible fiscal conservative principles in bills? Or does he do what he's always done?
Here's an example: small business programs and tax cuts. In the past, Garrett's voted against them based on ideology. If his goal is to reduce government, and actually achieve it instead of talking about it, programs which create jobs are important. Such programs and tax cuts reduce government by reducing the unemployed, medicaid, government housing, and welfare rolls. Garrett should be voting for them pragmatically.
Make no mistake, there are going to be a lot of no votes from Garrett in the next two years. That said, I'm optimistic Garrett will realize the opportunity he has, and take our District's vote in the House from an afterthought in the legislative process to one of prominence.
Granted, this may seem too optimistic to most of you, but a year and half ago I was optimistic about having an Obama vs. McCain Presidential race. Every now and again, you get what you hope for. Either way, I'm wildly curious to see how the next few months pan out.