REGISTER CITIZEN EDITORIAL: Roraback ‘too moderate’ to be effective? Give us a break
Consumed by partisanship, a disease all too common among politicians in the heat of an election season, 5th District Congressman Chris Murphy has been sending mixed messages.
Murphy said last week that state Sen. Andrew Roraback (R-Goshen) “would be irrelevant” if elected to succeed him in Congress.
Because Andrew Roraback is an extremist who will be marginalized? No. The opposite.
Because Roraback refuses to work with other legislators? No way. Murphy himself has singled out Roraback with praise for doing that.
In a twisting of logic only made possible by the “say anything, do anything” rules of getting your own party followers elected, Murphy is actually arguing that Roraback is too moderate, too reasonable, too independent, too bipartisan to be effective in Congress.
And this logic is coming from the chairman of the House “Center Aisle Caucus.” It promotes bipartisanship and problem solving by bringing members of Congress from both parties together to engage in and promote civil dialogue.
It’s coming from a guy who praised Roraback during his bid for re-election in 2008 as a state senator who was extremely effective despite party affiliation because he was moderate and because he continually reached across the aisle to craft solutions on various issues.
Murphy and Roraback served together in the Connecticut Senate prior to Murphy’s election to Congress. His comments in 2008 came in contrasting Roraback with David Cappiello, another Republican state senator who was Murphy’s opponent for Congress that year.
Democrats would bristle if we suggested that perhaps they’re having trouble finding arguments against voting for Andrew Roraback this fall. That they haven’t quite figured out how to get around his popularity among independents and Democrats in the area in and near his state Senate district in Northwest Connecticut.
Yet Democrats went so far as to air deceptive Super PAC TV ads in the Republican primary that accused Roraback of being too liberal, hoping to flip the nomination to a social conservative who would be easier to beat in the general election.
And 48 hours later, they were putting out press releases and videos describing Roraback as a “Tea Party Republican” who is too conservative for the 5th District. In fact, Roraback enraged the Tea Party by being the only Republican candidate to refuse to take Grover Norquist’s “no tax increase ever” pledge.
Murphy’s argument that Roraback would not make a good 5th District congressman because he’s more reasonable and moderate and willing to work with anyone than the average Republican in Congress seems as bizarrely partisan as the Super PAC and “Tea Party” hits.
“That is so stupid,” is how former Congressman Christopher Shays put it. “The most relevant person is the moderate because they’re important to both sides.”
Shays knows something about being a moderate out of step with party leadership.
In fact, he said, being a moderate Republican can work better for a congressman who has few colleagues in the party in a particular region – say, New England, where two New Hampshire representatives are the only Republicans in the House. It makes you somewhat “immune” from reprisals when you vote against your own party.
He shot back at Murphy as someone who has “voted 95 percent of the time with Nancy Pelosi.”
“I guess he thinks you have to do that,” Shays said.
What would be refreshing is if Democrats acknowledged what they’ve all said privately about Roraback for many years, and what his neighbors in Northwest Connecticut know to be true. He is a moderate, he is a nice guy, and he does have a track record of bipartisanship.
With that out of the way, the fact is, there are numerous and clear differences between Elizabeth Esty and Andrew Roraback on the issues. You could start with President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. She would expand it. He would repeal it. Federal stimulus. Taxes. And so forth.
Put aside the political hacksmanship and tell us how Elizabeth Esty would help lead the country out of difficult economic times and how Andrew Roraback’s approach contrasts with that.