Thursday, July 19, 2007

Republican Infighting Over Earmarks

Lots of Members of Congress have not adapted to the Internet. Case in point: Congressman Don Young thinks that people don't notice when he behaves like a child on the House floor:

The debate over appropriations spending is pitting Republican against Republican, as Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) yesterday declared, “Those who bite me will be bitten back,” issuing an unsubtle threat to Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) for attempting to cut programs in Alaska.

Young’s outburst came in response to an amendment offered by Garrett that would cut millions in approprations for “Strengthening Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions.” The Garrett amendment, which failed by a
large margin, only cut funds to Alaska...

Young called New Jersey “a state that doesn’t have the greatest reputation” and accused Garrett of trying to take funding from needy children, yet stopped short of referring to him by name.

“I have been able to represent my state better than New Jersey. I suggest New Jersey ought to elect themselves some new congressmen. I suggest [that constituents elect members] that can do the job,” Young said, as laughter echoed through the chamber. “I truly believe that if they can’t do the job, they should elect somebody new.”

There are plenty of Republican voters who want earmark reform, and thanks to political blogs, the ones in Alaska are bound to hear about this. In fact, it's likely that a lot of them already have, since polls show Mr. Young's poll numbers dropping at home:

Fifty percent of respondents said they were likely to support Stevens for re-election, while 43 said they were unlikely. For Young, 44 percent said they were likely to vote for the congressman and 54 percent said they were unlikely. The remainder — 6 percent in the case of the Senate contest, 4 percent in the House election — did not provide an answer.

There aren't many serious Democratic challengers in Alaska, so Mr. Young's only real challenge would be in a primary. But Frank Murkowski lost his bid for renomination as Governor, so there ought to at least be concern that a viable challenger could make life difficult for Young, regardless of his seniority.

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