Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ramstad puts another Republican seat in play

Representative Jim Ramstad (R-Minnesota) is stepping down from his seat in a district that The Hill calls "a bona fide swing district." Ramstad's departure makes it likely that Democrats will pick up yet another seat in Congress.
Speaking to the press in his district, Ramstad said he wants to spend more time living life outside of Congress and pledged to increase the amount of time he spends working on mental health and substance abuse issues, particularly with young people.

"After 17 years of getting on the plane every Monday and not coming back until Friday, I’m burned out, I’m tired," Ramstad said. "I still have the passion for policymaking, and I still have the passion for politics, but I want to be home."
The reasons for Ramstad's departure are telling:
A former state senator, he was forced to cede the chairmanship of the House Ways and Means oversight subcommittee when the Democrats took power following the 2006 election.

Ramstad, who has built a centrist voting record during his tenure, has spent much of the new Congress voting with his Democratic colleagues on key issues. He was one of 17 GOPers to vote against the troop increase in Iraq and one of 24 to vote to allow the government to negotiate prescription prices with drug companies.

On Monday, he offered criticism of the White House for not adhering to the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group.

"That’s not the way the administration is moving, unfortunately," Ramstad said. "This isn’t going to be won militarily."
Translation: he was a very influential chairman who recognizes that it is going to be a long, long time before the Republican Party regains control of Congress. Like a lot of formerly powerful chairmen, Ramstad probably doesn't have the patience for a prolonged stint in a minority opposition party.

Read the full details of Ramstad's departure at The Hill.

What I am waiting to see is whether any sitting member of Congress will attempt to switch parties. Joe Lieberman is quietly attempting to return to the Democratic Party, filing as a Democrat in his new home of Stamford.

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