UPDATE: 10/17/2013 AT 10:30 AM
Courtesy of the "Cleveland" Plain Dealer here are the comments of Stark County congressmen Jim Renacci (Republican - Wadsworth), Bob Gibbs (Republican - Holmes County) and Tim Ryan (Democrat - Niles). Here is a LINK to confirming their votes (Renacci, no; Gibbs, no; Ryan, yes).
In the 2012 16th Congressional District race Wadsworth Republican Jim Renacci made big splash about his effort to encourage bipartisanship within the United States House of Representatives.
The Stark County Political Report has always been skeptical of Renacci's authenticity on his claimed willingness to "cross the aisle" to work with Democrats to do the very best that our elected representative can do for the benefit of Republicans, Democrats, independents and others of various political persuasions who populate the American electorate.
At the time of his "across the aisle" initiative, his race against Democrat Betty Sutton (an incumbent herself - the old 13th district - forced to run against Renacci because of decentenial Constitutionally required redistricting) was thought to be a close one.
Renacci obviously knew he was not in a "gerrymandered safe" district and under the right circumstances could lose the seat that he had wrestled from Democrat John Boccieri in 2010. (the old 16th which included all of Stark County)
A move towards "seeking political common ground."
In the 2010 match up against Boccieri, the rising political tide was definitely with the Republicans and Renacci took full advantage by emphasizing his Republicanism.
In 2012, there was much more political equilibrium across the nation and the "new" 16th was part of the shift in political sentiment.
Being the political animal he is, Renacci appeared to move off his strident partisanship into more of a "let's work together" mode.
He was quoted thusly in a Cleveland Plain Dealer piece in the run up to election day 2012:
According to Renacci's office, he and Carney [a Democrat from Delaware] are founding members of a bipartisan working group that regularly discusses ways Republicans and Democrats can work together. Members of the group have introduced legislation on issues including unemployment insurance, savings accounts for home buyers and reforming the budgeting process.Well, the Sutton challenge did not prove, in the final analysis, to be so challenging.
"Congressman Carney and I have worked closely over the last two years to achieve open dialogue and find common ground between our two parties in the House of Representatives," Renacci said in a press release. "While much of Washington is polarized and plagued by gridlock, we have focused on areas where we can work together to get America back on track."
Consequently, Renacci appears to have gotten to feeling cocky and feeling no need to "reach across the aisle" has abandoned his bipartisan foray.
And just when we Americans are looking for Republicans and Democrats in Congress alike to step up and assume leadership "in seeking common ground" on getting out of the political stalemate induced government shutdown and impending (Thursday) impending debt ceiling crises, Renacci is nowhere to be seen.
His AWOL status is enough for the SCPR to conclude that the bipartisanship was a political ploy designed to get him by the 2012 election.
He seems to have slipped back into the highly divisive political rhetoric over the Affordable Care Act (also referred to as 'Obamacare;' used pejoratively by Republicans, but owned with pride by President Obama) which he used very effectively to defeat Boccieri in 2010. Renacci was one of 63 Republicans swept into office in the Republican house-cleaning of that election.
Boccieri was among a handful of Democratic congressperson from marginal Democratic districts (2008) who were key in their votes for the passage of the Affordable Care Act.
From a recent WCPN-FM (Ideastream) interview (October 11th), here is an excerpt which shows Renacci's current preoccupation with Obamacare as an issue that is preventing Republicans (especially in the House) from reaching out to Democrats in order to end the national government "partial" shutdown which may escalate into American defaulting on its debts beginning this coming Thursday.
There are still many business members in the community who are unhappy with the president’s health care plan and want us to continue to do something there.
There are many others who want us to work to get the government back open because they’re seeing a slide in their business. And there are others who are a little bit concerned about interest rates and the credit markets with the debt ceiling.
So I’m hearing various comments, always…some small business owners who are hurt very, very bad by the president’s health care plan, you know are very adamant that we need to make some changes to that.Apparently, Renacci is part of that band of core Republicans in the House (thought to be about 80 members strong) who have been trying to use the shutdown and the debt ceiling crises as leverage to try to get at Obamacare.
President Obama, so far, is having none of it.
So who is getting hurt?
Many ordinary Americans, a number of whom live in the 16th.
Polls are showing that Americans are turning anti-incumbent especially if you are an incumbent Republican congressman who represents a district that is somewhat competitive.
The 16th is such a district.
While he is putting on a brave face in the WCPN interview and pooh-poohing any concern with polls showing that Republicans are getting hurt in the current crisis.
And, November, 2014, is a year away.
Voters have shown that they have a short memory and such is what Renacci is likely relying upon.
But maybe not so quick.
Yesterday, a USA Today published Pew Research poll came out showing that 74% of Americans want incumbents to be defeated next year.
The longer that the shutdown and the deficit ceiling default issues stay prominently in the news and begin to hurt more and more Americans, the likes of Jim Renacci ought to start worrying about their longevity in Congress.
The SCPR thinks Renacci, in particular, should worry because a second "seeking common ground" feint is not going to work.
For one thing, the crises and the attendant political vulnerabilities will likely cause promising candidates with the resources to run a strong campaign to take a new look at running against Renacci.
For another, when America, Ohio and 16th district citizens needed a bit of "reaching across the aisle" at "crunch time;" Jim Renacci was nowhere to be seen.
Stiff competition from "across the aisle" in the 2014 elections might well fire up 2013 memories of Renacci's failure to showing any bipartisanship whatsoever - notwithstanding his grandstanding on the matter in 2012 - "when it counted."
Maybe, just maybe, Renacci's 2012 ploy might come back and bite him in the "political tenders."