Bob Goodlatte and term limits: Time to forgive and move on

bob-goodlatte-afp2Every two years, Bob Goodlatte is reminded of a campaign promise he made way back in 1992, when he was making his first bid for the sixth district congressional seat.

Running at the height of the early 1990s fervor over congressional term limits, the Republican pledged to limit his service in Congress to six terms, in line with what the term limits movement of the day was pushing, taking him at most to 2005.

We’re heading into the 2014 congressional midterms, and Goodlatte is running for a 12th term on the November ballot.

Democrats, in particular, get up in a lather whenever Goodlatte launches his next campaign, and snark amongst themselves about how he’s reneging on that ages-ago pledge.

And of course he is, in one sense. But in another, if the sixth district was that much bothered by Goodlatte’s continued presence in Congress, the voters have the ultimate term limits solution at their disposal.

It’s called the vote, and if you want to hold Goodlatte accountable for something he promised back in 1992, you can do so by voting for a Goodlatte opponent or writing somebody else’s name in.

Goodlatte is otherwise sixth district Congressman-for-life in a district drawn up for Republicans to win and win easily. Two Democrats, Sam Rasoul, now a member of the Virginia House of Delegates representing the Roanoke area, and Shenandoah County author and commentator Andy Schmookler have each waged very spirited runs against Goodlatte in recent years, as has another Republican, Shenandoah County farmer and retired Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, in a 2012 GOP primary. But Goodlatte’s quiet strategy built on his don’t rock the boat political personality doesn’t lend itself well to sparking political uprisings.

Which isn’t to discourage present-day or future opponents from challenging Goodlatte, both for his politics and his way-too-inside-the-Beltway approach after serving more than 20 years in Congress.

Those opponents are better served not wasting the time that it takes to write the press release about his 1992 term limits pledge, that’s all. Time to forgive him on that and move.

– Column by Chris Graham




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