Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Fairness Doctrine of Immigration

Far be it from me to be completely one-sided in writing about DC politics; I can save about 15-20% of my time for bad GOP news as well. Today's is a story about Republican divisions on immigration. Or more accurately, about two House Republicans divide over immigration. Roll Call (as always, subscription required) reports:

Tancredo vs. Cannon?
June 20, 2006
By Ben Pershing,
Roll Call Staff

House Republican leaders don’t need another reminder that their Conference is divided on the issue of immigration. But they’re getting one anyway, courtesy of Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.).

The political action committee founded by Tancredo, Team America PAC, has been garnering national press for its forceful assault on Rep. Chris Cannon (R), who faces a tough GOP primary challenge in Utah’s 3rd district. Team America is running radio ads lambasting Cannon’s immigration position and aggressively has encouraged readers of its Web site to oppose Cannon’s re-election.

The moves have caught the attention of Republican leaders, who always try — with mixed success — to remind GOP lawmakers not to target their fellow incumbent Republicans.

“It’s bad enough fighting off [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman] Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) and [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.),” said a senior House GOP leadership aide. “We really don’t need to be fighting off one of our own Members.”

Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) has complained in recent years to Tancredo about the activities of Team America, which also hounded Arizona Rep. Jim Kolbe (R) before he announced he would retire this cycle. Then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) made similar pleas, apparently to no avail.

“Hastert talked to [Tancredo] about it during the Kolbe race,” said the leadership aide. “He was saying, ‘It’s not really me, I’m not really behind it, blah blah blah,’ but it’s not true.”

For the record, Tancredo is the “founding chairman” of the Team America PAC, while Bay Buchanan is the group’s chairwoman and chief spokeswoman.

“He’s really stayed apart from it since the founding,” said Tancredo spokesman Will Adams. “He has no formal influence over what the PAC does. Obviously he and Bay are friends, but in terms of strategically where the PAC is going, he doesn’t make the decisions.”

Asked what role Tancredo had in Team America’s decisions, Buchanan said, “None.”

“He stepped down from his position as chairman 18 months ago, and while he and I continue to be close ... I don’t know if he’s heard the ad [against Cannon] and he was not consulted,” Buchanan said, though she added that “we both agree that it’s time to hold the Congressmen and Senators accountable for their votes.”

Of course, Team America’s Web site does prominently feature a picture of Tancredo and several quotes from the lawmaker, and the Web site of Tancredo’s re-election campaign links to that of Team America. And while Tancredo says he doesn’t control the PAC, he does endorse its actions and has pledged to travel on behalf of the candidates the group backs.

...Cannon himself has expressed his displeasure at Team America’s actions, which focus on criticizing Cannon’s support of President Bush’s immigration reform plan. Team America calls Cannon the “King of Amnesty” and has featured his face with a bull’s-eye on it on the group’s Web site (though that image is no longer viewable on the site).

Unlike in the case of Kolbe, who represents a swing district, Republicans are in little danger of losing Cannon’s seat even if the incumbent falls in the primary, as the 3rd district gave Bush 77 percent of the vote in 2004.

...“It’s unfortunate whenever members of the Republican Conference decide to engage in activity against fellow Members,” said Carl Forti, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. “The NRCC fully supports Mr. Cannon.”

As unhappy as Republican leaders are about Tancredo’s agitation, it isn’t clear whether they can exact any retribution against the Coloradoan.

...But Tancredo doesn’t have a chairmanship or a spot on an exclusive panel; he has seats on the International Relations and Resources committees. And Tancredo spends more of his time traveling the country, including visits to presidential primary states, and making media appearance on the immigration issue than he does working the legislative process on Capitol Hill.

“How would they pressure us?” asked Tancredo spokesman Adams. “We don’t have a choice committee assignment that they could really take from us. ... It’s freeing not to have any sort of points of leverage against us.”

Republicans have diverse views on immigration, and Chris Cannon has earned a lot of support for his courage to stand up to guys like Tancredo. Tancredo and Buchanan ought to back off.

Update: The Hotline reports that Cannon's primary opponent, John Jacob, is involved in an immigration controversy of his own. He allegedly hired an immigrant who lacked work authorization, but did so through a company he helped set up. Jacob contends he did nothing illegal.

Back to the top.


jakejacobsen said...

I hesitate to even comment here as I feel I must have fallen into Bizarroville. You support the Senate bill? Why?

Tancredo should back off? Why? If Cannon's proud of his stance he should be able to take the heat. But that's not what he's doing, is it?

jakejacobsen said...

Oh what the hell, I might as well enjoy my time in the fever swamp here.

Can you give me an example of either Rep. Cannon's "courage" or the alleged support of his principled stand for illegal immigration.

Enquiring minds want to know.

The Editor at IP said...

Jake -

Thanks for the comments, but I have to ask - did you read any other post on this blog before commenting?

I don't know where you got the idea I support the Senate bill; any of about 20 things I've written here make that clear.

I don't know much about Cannon's views on illegal immigration - but I know that he voted for the House's enforcement-only bill. Apart from that, I know that he's earned great support from the business community for his work on worker visas and legal immigration. The Republican party needs those folks, too. So whether you agree or not, he is a leader.

As for how he's reacting, he's reacting exactly as someone would who is being attacked by a colleague he agrees with on 90 percent of the issues. I think Tancredo can do anything he wants to defeat Cannon's views in the Congress, but it's beyond the pale to try to take him out at the ballot box. I've written a lot about the Democrats' foolishness in trying to defeat Lieberman because he disagrees on Iraq. It is just as foolish to go after Cannon over immigration. It's the sort of thing that will put Democrats in control.

Sorry if my response seems strong, but I know you haven't read much of what I've written if you think this blog is some sort of RINO site.