I’ve written repeatedly about lobbyist-canoodling, cronyist-favor-doing, union-coddling, Republican-repelling, Trump-loving GOP House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster’s political travails and dubious air traffic control “reform” proposal.
But here’s a new tidbit in this long-running saga, which now apparently involves his former Tea Party primary opponent who nearly beat him running as a Democrat to turf him out: It turns out that Shuster and his plan are so unpopular and controversial that his House colleagues are already jockeying to replace him.Two years before his current term is set to expire. Seriously. Via Politico:
Rep. Bill Shuster won’t hit the term limit for his chairmanship until 2019, but that hasn’t stopped two members of the House Transportation Committee from starting to make their separate cases for the job.[…] [T]he fact that Reps. Jeff Denham and Sam Graves are already jockeying for the gavel is noteworthy as Shuster faces a tougher-than-expected reelection contest this year.
What has Shuster’s House colleagues so convinced he’s going to lose? Well, for starters, this ad by Halvorson, which is running on cable covering about 70 percent of the district, is just brutal:
“Fifteen years ago, Congressman Bud Shuster was found guilty of ‘serious official misconduct’… He took family trips to Puerto Rico that were paid for by lobbyists. And he spent $300,000 on dinners with his favorite lobbyist. After he resigned, party leaders rigged the installation of his son, Bill Shuster, as our congressman. But the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
“Bill Shuster collected $100,000 in campaign contributions for airline corporations, while he dated their lobbyist… Then he muscled legislation through congress imposing a new airline tax on us, while letting his corporate friends ride free. Bill Shuster’s record in Congress doesn’t match our values, because he serves the special interests giving his campaign millions. On Nov. 8, vote for Art Halvorson, and put Washington to work for us, for a change.”
This is basically Halvorson’s entire message: As he said to the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney recently,
“[Shuster’s] morally corrupt. Morally failed, as evidenced by Shelly Rubino. … He doesn’t have time for constituents, because he’s too busy meeting with the lobbyists. … He’s in bed with the lobbyists. Literally. I mean we’ve gone from a metaphor to a reality… Right now, you look at Shuster, and he just goes to the highest bidder. It’s pay for play. In order to compete, you have to make a donation to even talk to him.”
Halvorson only lost his primary to Shuster by 1,000 or so votes— a mere 1 percent— so it’s quite conceivable he could turf him out on November 8. And while House Republicans are stupid, they’re not stupid, you know? A lot of these guys have been around the block and they know that voters will often vote for someone they think is wrong, but they won’t vote for someone they think is corrupt (two arguable exceptions to this rule can be found in our presidential contest, and the old Louisiana 1991 gubernatorial race between David Duke and Edwin Edwards, where Edwards explicitly implored people to vote for the crook— him— because “it’s important”). That’s especially true, it seems, of Graves and Denham, who must be consuming large bags of popcorn as they read news coverage out of the Pittsburgh area.
To-date, there doesn’t appear to be any public polling of this race, so it’s impossible to know for sure what will happen. But presumably, Graves and Denham have some access to NRCC data, and presumably, if they’re making these moves, it doesn’t look great for Shuster— or his airline lobbyist girlfriend.