There have been a lot of idiotic and politically disastrous statements by various Republicans during the shutdown mess, but few were as tone-deaf as the one made by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE). Terry, as you may well remember, was the one who had this to say when he was asked if he'd keep his government paycheck during the shutdown.
"Dang straight," Terry said when the newspaper asked whether he would collect his pay during the shutdown, adding that he thought the question was irrelevant because the budget crisis would be resolved shortly.
Asked about other members of Congress who announced they would either donate their pay to charity or forego paychecks for the duration of the shutdown, Terry suggested it was all for show.
"Whatever gets them good press. That's all that it's going to be," he told the newspaper. “God bless them. But you know what? I've got a nice house and a kid in college, and I'll tell you we cannot handle it. Giving our paycheck away when you still worked and earned it? That's just not going to fly.”
Needless to say, this was not a smart thing to say, especially if you won by just a 2% margin last election. And sure enough, shortly thereafter, just like fellow GOP House greedhead turned dunderhead Renee Ellmers, Terry backpedled faster than Wil E. Coyote trying in vain not to fall off the cliff:
Terry called his own remarks "shameful."But if he thought that this would get him in the clear, he was wrong. Because his actions and those of his fellow Republicans have convinced a formidable challenger to run against him:
“The other day I made a statement that I would put my needs above others in crisis,” the Nebraska Republican said in a statement, as quoted by the World-Herald. “I'm ashamed of my comments. It was not leadership. It is not how I was raised. It is not the nature of my character. It is not what I want to teach my sons. I apologize for my hurtful remarks when so many others are feeling the pain of Washington's dysfunction.”
“I should and will stand in the shoes of the federal civilian employees who are furloughed,” he added. “We share the same responsibilities to pay our bills, and if they don't receive a paycheck and must take extraordinary efforts and sacrifice to pay them, then I should, too.”
An Omaha city councilman announced this weekend that he would challenge Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) for his congressional seat in 2014, the Omaha World-Herald reported.More from Politico:
Councilman Pete Festersen had said in August that he didn't want to run for the sake of his family, according to the World Herald. But the dysfunction in Washington seems to have changed his mind.
"Like most people, my frustration has grown by the day over the last month, with the government shutdown and the brinkmanship on the debt ceiling," Festersen said. "Change is needed. And I felt it was my responsibility to be that change."
Democrats have spent years trying to recruit a viable challenger to Terry, an eight-term congressman with a history of narrow reelection wins. In 2012, he won with just 51 percent of the vote; in 2008, Terry survived with 52 percent.Now, for Terry, this is an ominous sign for sure. But it's also an ominous sign for Republicans. As said above, Festersen wasn't inclined to run at first, but the GOP antics of the last couple weeks have pushed him over the edge. Indeed, DCCC boss Steve Israel was all but bragging to other Dems last week that the shutdown is providing a big boost to their House recruitment efforts, as potential contenders who previously had been unwilling to run in a difficult midterm cycle are now scenting the blood in the water.
National Democrats have been aggressively trying to woo the 42-year-old Festersen. According to the newspaper, he received a call from Vice President Joe Biden, who encouraged him to get in the race.
Are Terry's new challenge and Bill Young's recent retirement announcement ominous omens of the future for the House GOP? Stay tuned...