Monday, November 14, 2005


Blake Aued channels Sanjay Gupta in today's ABH, with a (fairly shallow) discussion of Norwood's health and how it affects his re-election bid in 2006. Of course, it wouldn't be an ABH election story without two things: a discussion of money (Norwood has lots, the 2004 Democratic candidate - not so much), and a weigh in by Charles Bullock of the UGA poli sci department.

Those two things, rather than Norwood's health, are what we'd like to briefly address. First the money. Norwood or not, any Democrat who wants to run in this district is going to have to raise some serious cash. In fact, the money chase is one of many reasons why this district is seen as such a solid Republican lock. You might be not at all surprised to know that the Democrats haven't even come close to matching Norwood's fundraising totals since 1996 (David Bell was the D that year, if you're keeping score at home.) Not saying that this is a super-competitive seat, but we are saying that we'd like to see what would happen if Norwood were challenged by a Democrat who had the gumption and persistence to sit on the phones for months, raise seven or eight hundred thousand, and make a real race out of this.

The good news for either candidate is that, as far as Congressional races go, this is a fairly cheap district to run in. TV isn't too expensive here, unless you try to be an utter bonehead and run ads on the Atlanta affiliates (totally unncessary), so the dominant medium is direct mail, which has the dual advatages of being both less expensive and more targetable. Additionally, the district is far more compact that the 12th, and reasonably more compact that the 9th, which means a candidate can see more voters in less time, if they've got a mind to.

As far as Bullock's input is concerned, he makes a good point. If Norwood drops out, the race gets more competitive. Kemp says he wouldn't run, but would Doc Eldridge? Notice that Blake either didn't ask Doc, or Doc didn't give him anything to use. On the subject of Bullock, we wonder how long we'll have to stay at this before the ABH asks us to say things that are essentially common sense for publication.

Should Norwood's health become a campaign issue? Absolutely, as long as it's presented in the right way, and addressed in the right way by Norwood himself. His health is tied directly to his ability to effectively represent the citizens in his district.



Dawg Corleone said...

I ask again: what is meant be "effective" representation?

All a Congressman is bound to do is vote (I guess technically he's not even bound to do that). As long as he votes the way I want him to, he's effective.

On the other hand, if he's an Olympic marathoner but votes counter to my wishes, I'm going to be hard-pressed to define him as effective and I'm going to look to get him beat next time out.

Publius said...

Well, I'm not in Norwood's district, so I can't speak to the effectiveness of his representation. But, in general terms, "effective" representation, to me, entails making the votes, being responsive to the people in your district, and making sure the district gets its fair share when pork time comes around.

Does Norwood represent his district effectively? I'll leave that for the folks who he currently serves to hash out. But, while Norwood's health per se probably shouldn't be a campaign issue, his health as it impacts his ability to serve should be.

As a side issue, one thing that has popped up a few times in the discussions here is whether an elected representative should always vote the way the majority of the people in his district feel, or should he/she voter his/her conscience, and do what they think is the best for the district, state, city, whatever?

hillary said...

Isn't the point that Norwood's health has, in fact, kept him from voting on numerous occasions? I could be wrong here.

bulletdawg said...

Right, Hillary. Norwood has missed a number of votes due to the fact he has been in the hospital or recovering from his surgeries. I wish the guy luck with his recovery, I just wish he wasn't recovering on our dime and time. We need a member of Congress who is healthy enough to be at his job throughout the year.

Norwood has missed votes on the floor, in committee, and has failed to attend to the district's needs (protecting our share of the federal budget, attending events important to the district).

Furthermore, Norwood promised us in 1994 when he first ran that he would only serve "two Senate terms" in the House. Well his time runs up in 2006. It's time for him to step-aside so my district can get competent, active representation.

Fishplate said...

I find these comments interesting:

"But, in general terms, "effective" representation, to me, entails ... making sure the district gets its fair share when pork time comes around.

"Norwood ... has failed to attend to the district's needs (protecting our share of the federal budget...)"

I know this reflects political reality, but the focus sseems to be misplaced...shouldn't the job of a Senator be to make sure our tax dollars are being spent wisely, and in an effective fashion? Not simply to make sure we get as big a piece of the pie as we put in?

If the Senator's job is to make sure we get back as much tax money as we send to Washington, why do we need the added layer of Washington bureaucracy at all?

Publius said...

Your ellipses make me nervous, but nervous enough to go back and check on my own comments.

I would love it if our elected representatives would make sure my tax dollars are being spent in an appropriate fashion. Problem is, that my idea of a wise expenditure is going to be at odds with DiDDY's, in some cases, at odds with Monticello Pres' in more cases, and at odds with Dawg Corleone's just about every time. For instance, just to pick on him, from reading his comments, Dawg probably wouldn't favor ponying up a few billion to fund welfare to work programs (which cover the gap between minimum wage and what the minimum wage workers were formerly making on Welfare), whereas I would be righteously pissed if Bush and Cheney had gotten the appropriation to start building new nukes. (Not sure how Dawg feels about either of those issues, but I'm just using him as an abstract example of a position more conservative than mine.)

Now, there's also what I think is kind of a misconception in your comment, which is that pork is a bad thing. Not necessarily and not always. It is what is is. Getting federal funding to help ARMC build a level 1 trauma center in Athens would be considered pork, but is it necessarily bad? Building an indoor rain forest in Iowa (thanks, Chuck Grassley!), or a bridge to a town of 40 people in Alaska (thanks Senators Murkowski), or at least half the stuff Robert Byrd has slapped his name on (because Democrats like pork too), is a better example of bad pork. But just because it's pork, doesn't mean its bad.

I don't necessarily believe that we should get every peny of tax revenue we send up to DC back in the district, but I do believe that the district ought to get a fair share of the kitty, and certainly your district ought to get what it needs before we start building rain forests amidst the corn fields.

Publius said...

Sorry, I meant to say _not_ nervous enough to check my own comments.

bulletdawg said...

I want to talk about this point made by Publius:

"As a side issue, one thing that has popped up a few times in the discussions here is whether an elected representative should always vote the way the majority of the people in his district feel, or should he/she voter his/her conscience, and do what they think is the best for the district, state, city, whatever? "

This is the classic dispute over whether a member of Congress is supposed to be a delegate (a representative role in which the individual subordinates his/her views to those of their constituents) or a trustee (a representative who acts independently in deciding what is in the best interests of his or her constituents).

I think one can make compelling arguments for either role. Personally, I think members of Congress should act as trustees, as the majority of their political decisions are justified and explained by the electoral process that placed them in their position of power. I feel our democratic society places checks on representatives who stray too far from voters' expectations.

For example, take Rep. Barrow. For arguments sake let's just say Barrow ran as a moderate Democrat. If he were to go to DC and compile a far right or far left voting record, the voters of the 12th district have the opportunity in 2006 to repudiate that voting record and send him back to his Athens mansion. If the voters re-elect him, then they are reaffirming their approval of his policy stances.

While the correct answer may be a balance of the delegate and trustee model of representation, I'd argue most members of Congress subscribe to the trustee theory.

Fishplate said...

It's my understanding that back before the Seventeenth Amendment, the House represented the People's interests, and the Senate represented the State's interests.

Now, the distiction is not so clear, and in my opinion it's an amendment we could have done without. Still, you legislate with the system you have, not with the system you wish you had...

As for the elipses, I didn't intend to make any misleading edits (especially since the original statements were right above) I just wanted to point out what I think is a failure of the process...we have gone from "What's needed" to "What can I bring back that will get me reelected".

As for a bridge for 50 people, it sounds bad, but I understand it leads to an airport - might be a real need. But a National need? Likewise the Level 1 trauma center - who would it serve outside Georgia, so why do we expect South Dakota taxpayers to fund it?

There are certain things the Government should be involved in - most of them involving defense, interstate transportation, and similar programs. A possible use for pork is to allow larger projects than could be funded by one state alone, in which case thay should be rotated around - not an expectation every year. But in a country that thinks that growing your own wheat in your backyard is harming interstate commerce, we should expect most anything.

I see "pork" as a perjorative term these days, so it implies waste, at least to me. But then, I see most Federal spending as waste that could be done much more effectively at a state or local level. I like my spending close to home, where I can go visit it from time to time, and let the spender know what I think of it. Heidi reads tha ABH, but I don't reckon George Bush does...

monticello_pres said...

I have always been under the impression (or of the opinion) that our democratic republic worked based on the majority electing an official. That person then represented those interests in their capacity as Representative or Senator.

In a perfect world, they may vote with the majority of their constituants. But who is to say that the constituants have enough information to make an educated decision? And that is where we must trust that elected official - that person "in the know" - to represent us fairly and honestly.

If that elected official votes contrary to the majority - so be it. But if they vote too often different from the ideology of the people in which they represent, then we have a problem at re-election time.

As for pork, it is a negative term that connotates waste. Many times pork is a "hand out" from the feds when that particular issue could be / should be handled at the state or local level.

Just my 1.5 cents worth.

Anonymous said...

2 problems with that:
1) the voters are stucking fupid!

2) lots of folks don't really want to run for re-election