In a recent post to his weblog, see "Jerry Kilgore Ninth District Challenger," Brian fairly outlines a number of reasons why Kilgore, should he decide to try to unseat incumbent Congressman Rick Boucher in the 9th Congressional District, will have a tough time of it. Most of Brian's reasons come down to incumbency and experience and he's probably right in saying,
"For these reasons and others, the smart money will be on Boucher to be re-elected in 2006. "I'd have let all this go if Mr. Patton hadn't included this:
Beyond all of these reasons, though, I am pulled back to something Governor-elect Kaine often repeated on the campaign trail – “if it ain’t broken, why fix it?”He'll get no argument from me on the latter point. By all accounts, Boucher's office is there when a constituent is in need of federal help. But in this day and age, that's a given. Part of the reason we have a burgeoning workforce in Washington is because politicians have perfected the art of stroking the voter base. Boucher's office is no different from those of all other Congresspersons. He has people in our employ who get things done for voters back home. And that's a good thing.
Although some folks may not agree with his politics, Boucher’s constituent services are second to none.
And we know that Rick Boucher is always there when another manufacturing plant closing is announced. His one claim to fame - in all his years in Congress - is that he sees to it that unemployment benefits reach laid off workers quickly (see related post and press release). He's entitled to those bragging rights, I suppose, if he really wishes to claim them.
No. It's that vexing, "if it ain’t broken, why fix it?" line.
Can economic conditions here in Southwest Virginia be any more broken?
I'll not go into all the problems again. Just go here and read it for yourself. For those of you who are regular readers, you already know our sad saga. For the rest of you, suffice it to say that our problems abound, the most enraging having to do with drinking water in parts of Scott County being unfit for human consumption and thousands of homes in the 9th District not even having indoor plumbing.
Then there are the thousands of layoffs in the last few years in all those manufacturing plants around the area. In Giles County alone Celanese, which provides 25% of the county's tax revenue, has announced massive layoffs.
Someone please define the word "broken."
Rick Boucher responds to growing troubles in his district with a now famous request for funds in the recent federal transportation bill to construct a horseback riding trail in Scott County, upstream from the polluted creeks where local residents get their drinking water, one would hope. And funds to spruce up a remote park in Giles, where the laid-off Celanese employees can while away the time. I kid you not. Hollywood movie scripts are built around such idiocy.
Anyway. Odds are that Brian Patton is right. Rick Boucher will be reelected in 2006. But realities here will not improve with catchy phrases and pontificating.
We are grievously broken and in great need of fixing.