U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey — the unlikely Democratic newbie from Colorado’s 4th Congressional District — seems still fresh enough in her politics to actually be acting from conviction.
This week she made news for unabashed strong stances on two controversial issues: She defied the president and attorney general by publicly opposing the reintroduction of an assault weapons ban. Then she defied the business lobby and co-sponsored the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).
She didn’t have to do either of those things. She didn’t have to stand up and tell anyone what she thought. Hell, no. When it came time, she could have simply voted against the gun ban and she could have waited to see what happened with the pro-Labor EFCA instead of putting her name on it.
But gutsy Betsy Markey didn’t play it like that. Depending on your perspective, she’s either naïve or unencumbered by politics as usual. As Politico reports:
Markey is one of a surprisingly large number of Democratic freshmen sitting in competitive seats who have … challenged the conventional wisdom that at-risk, first-term members should avoid high-profile positions on tough votes.[…]
There’s no question that in Markey’s case, there is considerable risk to her [EFCA] position. In her Republican-oriented district on Colorado’s Front Range, the area’s 6 percent unionization rate is about half the national average, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates. The Chamber of Commerce in the largest city in her district, Fort Collins, has lobbied her to oppose the measure.
Markey makes the case for fully unionized workers and fully loaded AK 47s, even though there’s almost none of the former and probably not a whole lot of the latter floating around the 4th District. That’s fresh.
When she voted for Obama’s stimulus package, she told The Rocky Mountain News she wasn’t concerned with the partisan jabs she’d be taking as a result:
… at this point, I’m really not taking that into consideration. I’m just trying to do my job … The vast majority of [my constituents] are Republican. This is a conservative district … But they know help is needed, that we cannot just allow [ourselves] to do nothing. That is reckless behavior if we would just let the economy continue in a downward spiral. I mean, I think that is a fiscally irresponsible thing to do. The government needs to take action. This is bold action. I think we are in a situation where the cost of doing nothing is huge.
The men already gunning for her seat — official candidate Tom Lucero and unofficial candidate state Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma — with their amateur buzzword pitches (here and here), seem like poseurs by comparison, which is exactly what the GOP does not need in its candidates right now.
The impression that Republicans post-Bush are all pose and no policy is a problem the party doesn’t seem to know how to fix. Mastering Twitter and Facebook are not going to do it.
And neither is jumping aboard excitable Fox Friend Glenn Beck’s crazy-train tour of the country’s FEMA re-education camps!
Josh Penry, state Senate minority leader and gubernatorial hopeful, won’t support the federal stimulus package or state budget reform but he’ll help Glenn Beck look for the “monsters under the bed.” No amount of Twittering is gonna make that look like leadership for a country in economic crisis.