All About Politics: Republicans and the New D.C. Overlord

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).

Spineless Republicans What has come out of all the confirmation hearings for the Trump Cabinet nominees is the lack of political courage and independent thinking.

The selections have been appalling: Sessions, DeVos, Puzder, Mnuchin, Price. Pick your poison. The only dissenting Republicans were Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who both voted against DeVos.

Collins surprised many by actually introducing Sessions at his confirmation hearing. That introduction was the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) was the only Democrat to vote for Sessions. He is worried about getting reelected in 2018. Trump carried West Virginia by 42 points. Yes, you read that number right.

Murkowski is a gutsy pol. In 2010, seeking reelection, she lost the GOP primary, but then won the general election as a write-in candidate. That's quite a feat.

D.C. residents should be aware that in 2009, when the bill was up to expand the House of Representatives to 437 members and add one additional seat for Utah — and for the first time a voting seat for D.C. — Murkowski voted for cloture.

She has an undergraduate degree from Georgetown. She later voted no on D.C. being given a seat. When I asked her why she voted for ending the debate so a vote could take place, she simply said to me, “The issue deserves a vote.” The only other Republican who voted for cloture was Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi). He, too, voted against the bill.

Just for you students of history, the Republicans who voted in 2009 for a modicum of democracy for D.C. were the two senators from Utah (Hatch and Bennett) plus Lugar (R-Indiana), Voinovich (R-Ohio), Coleman (R-Minnesota), Snowe (R-Maine) and Collins (R-Maine).

Bennett has since passed away. Voinovich has as well. Lugar was defeated in a Republican primary and Coleman lost in a general election to Democrat Al Franken. Snowe retired from the Senate.

I bring all this up because it demonstrates how few friends D.C. has in the Senate in 2017. Even Tom Davis, who pushed the bill in the House, has since retired. Which brings us to Jason Chaffetz.

The New Overlord of D.C. You must have seen the large, unruly crowd that brought unexpected chaos and disorder to the town hall meeting convened by the Utah congressman in his district last week. Maybe that will divert his attention from continuing to beat up on D.C.

Chair of the committee that has jurisdiction over D.C., Chaffetz has attempted to use that post to overturn our local laws and advocate that we be annexed to Maryland. He likes the media spotlight. Some have said he might mount a primary challenge to Hatch in 2018, or run for governor.

One little known fact: In 1988, Chaffetz was an honorary co-chairman of the Dukakis campaign in Utah. His father was married for a time to someone named Katharine Dickson, who later became Kitty Dukakis.

2018 Mayoral Race Muriel Bowser is definitely running for a second term. The election is in 2018. But two candidates are lining up to challenge her in the Democratic primary. One is Karl Racine, the present attorney general. The other is a familiar name: Vince Gray. The former mayor is now the Council member from Ward 7. Gray wants to “even the score” with Bowser.

I will have more to say about the present mayor in my next print column in The Georgetowner.

Political analyst and Georgetowner columnist Mark Plotkin is a contributor to BBC on American politics and a contributor to thehill.com. Reach him at markplotkindc@gmail.com.

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Fri, 24 Feb 2017 23:45:36 -0500

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