Why Shadegg should retire

If you had asked me a week ago, I would have signed the letter getting all the attention.  John Shadegg is a man of principle and integrity.  I am a John Shadegg Republican.  I supported him in both of his campaigns for Majority Leader and Minority Whip.  I support the coalition of true believing conservatives; Tom Coburn, Jim DeMint, Jeff Flake, Mike Pence, of which Shadegg is not only a member but a leader.  Additionally, Bob Lord could never have beaten him.

I have never held it against Shadegg or any other candidate for breaking a term limits pledge.  What once seemed a good idea to many would have resulted in a less experienced Congress, where institutional knowledge and power would devolve to staff, lobbyists, the bureaucracy, and the press, as well as other branches of government.

I do, however, believe that members of the national legislature should bring experience to Washington as rich and diverse as the country they represent.

This means leaving Washington at an appropriate time, to live as an ordinary citizen under the laws you have made.

I do not think that John Shadegg should be done with government.  I fully expect and hope to see him in the United States Senate, ideally alongside Jeff Flake, taking the fight against runaway government from the back benches of the House to the heights of power.  John McCain has every incentive to resign, lest the Democrats who control the Senate force him to vote (or not vote) on measures aimed to cleave him from his party or the public.

Having said that, his words of last week represent a bell too loud to unring.  What to make of the following statements?

” All in all, it was never my intention to be a professional politician.”  Working for a living doesn’t sound so great after all.  It is now my intention to be a professional politician. 

“There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the Republican nominee for this seat will win in November.” He said this was based on polling data, and this takes the wind out of the best reason for him reversing course. 

“After deep reflection and consultation with my family, I have decided I will not be a candidate for re-election this fall.” After two days of facing the prospect of billable hours, I am scared to death to let go of the levers of power.

Is this the kind of decisiveness we’re looking for?  Theodore Roosevelt, the youngest president in American history, felt he would trade a limb to go back on an old promise to follow the Washingtonian precedent and only serve two terms.  But abide that promise he did.

Last week John Shadegg announced his retirement–January of 2009–with grace, and listed some really good reasons for doing so.  To reverse course would be inconsistent with everything I know of the man, and the way he has conducted himself in public life.  Those poised to enter the race to replace him represent some of the very best Arizona has to offer.  Those ready to run for lesser offices vacated in the wake of your decision  are our future.  Give them a chance.

It must be flattering for 130 of your colleagues to urge you to stay.  That’s better than the 40 votes you received to be Majority Leader, and much better than your subsequent race for Minority Whip.

Reversing course now would violate a central principle of our Republic.  We are a nation of law and democratic institutions, not of men.  No man, however great, is indispensible.  As your erstwhile colleague JD Hayworth said best, “The House is not a home.”


  1. Of course, JD said that after he was defeated for re-election. Easy to speak of how easy it is to leave after you’ve lost re-election.

    I think Shadegg will stick with the resignation, but all of the reasons you pretend would be his for staying (the fear of billable hours and all of that) wouldn’t be his reasons. If he stays, it will be because of a sense of national service and an appreciation for the leadership role he plays, with or without the title of Minority Leader.

    A lot of folks get to be a Congressman. Few have what it takes to be a leader.

  2. I think I am going to side with the 135+ congressmen who want him to reconsider. Now is not the time to create all sorts of confusion in the rank and file. There is a national election to be won and we do not need the distraction of good people beating themselves up over this seat at this time. I think that he should reconsider and stay in the House of Representatives if for not other reason than to force the Republican Part to stay honest with its new found concern over spending and costs. John is a leader and he is needed. This is about duty, no more no less. The young lions can wait another season.

  3. If he doesn’t want to be there, he shouldn’t be there. If he keeps running his campaign with the “bring it on” attitudes, he will find himself in the same position JD was.

    Obviously, the Republic is out to hang him based on their “news” article attacking him for the PAC donation — they literally rewrote the Dems press release. If he stays in, he needs to start talking about what he has done and the solutions he is advancing instead of taunting the D’s to spend more money against him.

  4. There is a time when we must trust the people who have proven to be trustworthy, there is no doubt in my mind that John Shadegg is one of those people. He understands, better than most, what it is he is doing, the ramifications of that and why.

  5. nightcrawler says

    I agree with Ann and John. Shadegg should stay. As I mentioned in another post, he needs to decide NOW. It is unfair to tease all the other suitors and to further create distraction.

  6. A tale of two leaders: I find it very telling that the two of the top leading contenders to succeed Shadegg have taken very different tactics during Shadegg’s period of reconsideration. Former lawmaker and national gay activist Steve May told the AZ Republic that he will run against Shadegg if he doesn’t get out of the way. Meanwhile, I got this message from State Treasurer Dean Martin. I think Martin is right and we should stand behind Shadegg, Steve May needs to curb his ambition and let our conservative leaders lead.

    From: Dean Martin [mailto:dean@votedeanmartin.com]
    Sent: Friday, February 15, 2008 8:13 PM
    To: sfguy216@yahoo.com
    Subject: Treasurer Dean Martin’s statement on Rep. Shadegg possible retirement

    Below is a message that I personally delivered to Congressman Shadegg earlier today. I would like to encourage all of the other Republicans named as potential candidates for the CD3 to stand with me and 143 members of Congress in asking Congressman Shadegg to reconsider his retirement. I have pledged my support to the Congressman in his re-election campaign, and encourage my fellow Republicans to do so as well.
    Thank you,
    February 15, 2008

    Dear Congressman Shadegg,
    Government spending and new government regulations are out of control in Washington. We need conservative leaders, not just when we are in the majority, but especially when we are in the minority. The residents of Congressional District 3 need someone who we know will stand against great odds for conservative principles, and I know that person is you. As a constituent and fellow conservative, I would like to join the 143 members of Congress and the vast majority of our fellow CD3 residents to sincerely ask that you reconsider your decision to retire from the US House of Representatives.

    Thank you for your service.

    Dean Martin
    Arizona State Treasurer

  7. Two things. Martin and May as the frontrunners? If that were remotely true, then I disagree with everything Publius said. Were you unaware that Ed Winkler and Jim Waring also made statements indicating that they would not run against Shadegg? Or do you really think May and Martin are the top guys?

    Martin wants that spot but doesn’t want to resign his job with three years left. That’s why he wants Shadegg to stay. Let’s maybe parse the politician’s statements a little better in the future.

  8. AZguy is exactly right..don’t make Martin’s statement out to be 100 percent altruistic, because it’s not.

    That being said, I have to agree with the message that Shadegg should stay. He’s the best congressman Arizona has right now.

  9. AZ Guy – Big difference.. Neither Waring nor Winkler has actually asked Shadegg to stay in Congress. They’ve only said they wouldn’t run against him (because they would be slaughtered). May even says he WILL run against Shadegg. I think Shadegg should stay, and everyone who wants his seat should wait.

  10. sfguy,

    Martin would be slaughtered if he ran against Shadegg too…that’s called stating the obvious.

  11. nightcrawler misunderstood my comment. I trust Mr. Shadegg to do what is right; he knows the whole story, we don’t.

    He has done all he could for as long as he has been there; whatever he is led to do, I will support his decision.

    As conservatives we need to step up and work to fill in the gap. We cannot expect a single man or woman, or for that matter a handful, to do all the heavy lifting for as long as there is a load.

  12. Ann is right. I know it’s hard for some, including some in Congress, to understand that someone might actually want to leave the job voluntairly, Shadegg is to be comended for it. He represents the values of a true citizen legislator. Shadegg knows better than most that Congress and for that matter the conservative movement will survive without him. For as great as he was in Congress and there is no doubt he ranks up in the top five in terms of conservatism, he has the wisdom and knowledge to know when its time to move on.

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