The Campaign Spot

Another Democrat Retirement Rumor That Sounds Iffy: Heath Shuler

This might be mischief-making, but Carl Mumpower, a Republican in North Carolina and former Asheville City Council member, has put out a statement giving his response to rumors of Heath Shuler’s possible retirement:

“Speculation persists that Western North District Congressman Heath Shuler may be reconsidering plans to again run for his seat.  Sources cite the impact of public service on his family and business interests as partial motivations.  Anyone who has served in public office would certainly sympathize with the Democrat Congressman.  Time will resolve the speculation.

The current slate of announced Republican candidates for the 11th District seat can be defined within two categories–

Those with actual experience in elected public office, but with a liberal voting record.

Those without actual experience in elected public office, but with a conservative rhetoric record.

I have met most of the candidates and would speak positively to their attributes and motivations within the limits of that exposure.  That said, I do not believe it is responsible or credible to seek a seat in congress without prior hands on experience in public office.  There is a reason they season talented ball players in the minor leagues first.

As regards the only candidate who has served in elected public office, another individual I personally appreciate, his voting record (the only authentic way of measuring a public official’s position) is decidedly liberal.  I do not believe that the conservatives of WNC would wish to elect a representative to Congress who talks conservative and yet walks a liberal path as illuminated by his voting record.

On the basis of the above, should Congressman Shuler decide not to run in 2010, I will likely reconsider my own earlier decision to pass on 2010 in deference to the stronger potentials of 2012.

The thing is, Heath Shuler seems like one of the House Democrats least likely to retire. He just got to Congress in 2006, he’s only 37 years old, and he won his district with 62 percent when McCain was carrying it, 52 percent to 47 percent. Sure, he would face some trouble as a Democrat in a GOP-leaning district, but he voted against the stimulus and the health-care bill, but for cap-and-trade. He supported the Stupak amendment. He’s raised a half million dollars for his reelection bid, and so far hasn’t attracted any top-tier GOP challengers. He did have a scandal involving a land deal and the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the TVA “inspector general states that, contrary to Shuler’s claims, he contacted TVA CEO Tom Kilgore while the land swap was in progress. Shuler has told the local press that there had been no contact between him and the TVA, according to reports.” But that appeared to have largely blown over, with no serious repercussions to Shuler’s career.

Of course, any member could decide that they’re tired of the job at any time; Shuler might conclude that it’s tough being a conservative Democrat under Speaker Pelosi and that, with 2010 looking bad for Democrats, he has no interest in serving in the minority party in the House.

Or maybe Mike Shanahan talked to him about a comeback . . .

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