Monday, December 13, 2004

Is Connie Making a Comeback?

This gave me a start. Daniel Drezner just got back from a conference in Paris on the US Election. After hearing the speakers, he found someone he'd add to his shortlist of 2008 Republican VP candidates. Who is it?

My former Representative, Connie Morella, who represented Maryland's 8th Congressional District until Chris Van Hollen knocked her out in 2002.
"By contrast, Connie Morella -- a former U.S. Representative for Maryland and currently U.S. Ambassador to the OECD -- was more interesting (though, to be fair, she didn't have to give a talk). Four years from now, any Republican nominee should short-list her for VP consideration. She's a blue-stater, was able to get re-elected in an overwhelmingly Democratic desitrict [sic] until she finally succumbed in 2002, and after her OECD stint will have diplomatic and economic policymaking experience.

My brief thoughts, speaking as someone who worked hard to unseat Morella in 2002. First of all, it isn't going to happen. Morella is WAY too moderate for the GOP. They barely tolerated her when she was in Congress, and her 2002 loss (even though it was in a district that was redistricted to become even more heavily Democrat than it was before) will, fairly or not, tarnish her credentials as someone who can win in the blue states. Plus she has no public profile outside of Montgomery County. Of course, she could just serve as political cover, giving the Republican ticket a moderate persona while still running to the right (see below). But I don't think it will be enough.

As to whether she'd be a good VP candidate...I'm not sure. When she was my Representative, Ms. Morella was legendary for her constituent service work. Everyone, Republican and Democrat, liked and respected her for her deep roots in the community and her geniune commitment to the people she represented. I'm not sure how that will translate to a beneficial quality as a VP candidate (considering VPs don't really have any constituent service work to do). She is a moderate, and could have a positive influence on a party that is racing off to the right. But Connie's (everyone in the 8th district calls her Connie) main problem is that she doesn't have a spine. I don't trust her to stand up to the Republican leadership, which to me negates any moderate credentials she may bring to the table. As a VP candidate, she'll be forced to go negative, something which doesn't suit her well (8th district voters were surprised and angered when "nice Connie" went negative in the waning days of the 2002 campaign). Connie is somewhat emblematic of the state of Republican moderates today--scared of their own party and cowed into submission. Is that really what we need in a VP candidate?

For better or for worse, I think Connie's career is over. I wasn't even aware she was representing us at the OECD, and I don't think she has the political heft to get on the ticket. However, my political opposition not withstanding, I am glad that a talented and dedicated public servant like Morella is still participating in the public sphere. We'll see if this story goes anywhere.

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