As you may have heard, 1510 KGA am radio talk show host Richard Clear has announced his intention of pursuing a candidacy against George Nethercutt for the 5th district congressional seat. This interests me.
During the 1994 congressional race Nethercutt was challenging then long time congressman and Speaker of the House Tom Foley. On his radio show Clear continuously attacked Foley and supported Nethercutt. In fact, Nethercutt and Clear became friends during this time.
Conventional wisdom, at the time, did not give Nethercutt much of a chance. And on paper, anyway, that wisdom was correct. Foley had been the 5th district congressman for 30 years, he was also the Speaker of the House, the third most powerful political position in our nation. Third in line to succeed the president. How could anybody defeat a sitting Speaker? In fact, it had not been done since the 1800's.
And yet, George Nethercutt did defeat Tom Foley. Richard Clear has been given credit for winning the election for Nethercutt. While it is true that Clear did help Nethercutt win, Nethercutt won primarily because of two things.
First, Nethercutt campaigned on a term limits platform, promising to serve only three terms in the house. He used Foley's political power, experience and prestige against Foley. Saying he was disconnected from the needs of his constituency. This obviously struck a chord with the voters.
Secondly, I believe Foley's position on the ban on assault weapons had much to do with his defeat as well. Foley, had been, for a long time, a supporter of the NRA and gunrights. After the shooting at Fairchild AFB, Foley felt he could not fight a ban on the types of weapons used in the shooting. With a mostly agricultural constituency this, I think it really did hurt him. This is born out by the fact Nethercutt beat Foley in the rural counties, with Foley winning Spokane County.
After the election and the so-called Republican Revolution, many political pundits made much ado about the role talk radio had in getting these republicans elected. Richard Clear also came under scrutiny, in fact Clear has been featured prominently in a book about the 1994 congressional campaign.
So why would Richard Clear run against a man he had worked so hard to put into office? The answer could be summed up in one word: ethics. Or, in this case, the lack thereof.
Remember, Nethercutt promised to run for only three terms in the House of Representatives, last year, he broke that promise by announcing his candidacy for a fourth term. George Nethercutt had become Tom Foley.
Nethercutt rationalizing his fourth term run has issued statements ranging from the soundbitish "I am not finished with the work of the 5th district" to the asinine " I changed my mind."
Earlier, in the year, when it looked like Nethercutt may announce a fourth term run, Richard Clear and his then on-air partner Steve Corker, both stated they would not support him. And now Richard Clear will run against George Nethercutt.
Clear has stated that Nethercutt must be held accountable for his actions. Meaning that when he promised to run for only three terms he lied. He broke his promise and has made a mockery of the 1994 election and what it signified for the American people. Richard Clear is absolutely correct. Nethercutt is not only a sham, but he is no better than Bill Clinton.
Now as far as George Nethercutt's service, it is, for the most part good. Nethercutt's work with the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery and his dedication to the cause of diabetes is well know.
This having been said, the voter needs to understand that we have a chance to show the country that character and honesty do matter to the 5th district.
When we voted out Foley, we sent a message to the country saying that principle is more important than political prestige. It is time now to send the message that we weren't kidding.