Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Michigan House veteran losing ground to term limits crusader Jack Hoogendyk

Wow. Yet another term limits supporter is closing in on a establishment veteran in a GOP primary. In Michigan's 6th House district, Jack Hoogendyk is seen as a contender against 25-year incumbent Fred Upton.

As in the other matchups -- Massie in Kentucky, Mourdock in Indiana -- the challenger comes armed with a signed U.S. Term Limits Congressional pledge and the incumbent awkwardly tries to defend his long tenure during which government spending and debt ballooned.

Upton is a classic foil. As illustrated in a famous Cato Institute study, Republicans tend to arrive in Washington and more or less live up to their fiscal conservative rhetoric -- for a while. But after 6, 7, 8 years their spending ramps up and soon they are no longer distinguishable from the veteran spenders.

Indeed, Upton received all As and Bs from the National Taxpayers Union during his first decade in Washington. But over his second decade he received mostly Cs, even a C-.  Like so many Republican candidates before him Fred came to Washington to cut government and eventually decided that the federal government should be in charge of everything from the weather, to Iraqi road maintenance, to kids video games. He has become part of the problem.

Like all longtime incumbents, he announces his reelection campaign and his coffers fill up automatically, as nearly all PAC contributions go to incumbents who have proven themselves as reliable spenders. In the first quarter, Upton raised nearly $1 million with big checks from the very firms he oversees as chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce: Entergy, Southern Company, Murray Energy, Duke Energy, Nuclear Energy Institute, etc. Of course, what would you expect? That's how the system works.

In the other corner we have Jack Hoogendyk. A tea partier and a member of the Campaign for Liberty, Hoogendyk focuses on spending and debt and has pointed to Rand Paul's proposed budget as an outline to follow to get spending under control. As a USTL pledge signer, he has committed himself to, if elected, cosponsor and vote for a 3/2 Congressional term limits amendment such as that introduced by Rep. David Schweikert of Arizona.

The Schweikert bill -- the house companion of Jim Demint's Senate bill -- is the first serious bill since the 1990s with co-sponsorship in both houses of the Congress. So far, there are about 10 cosponsors each in both the House and the Senate.

Rep. Fred Upton is not one of them. But Indiana Republicans have the opportunity to nominate someone who will be.

(Pictures: At top left , Rep. Fred Upton and challenger Jack Hoogendyk debate; At bottom right, GOP leadership enforcers keep Upton on track: Spend, spend, spend...)