In 2000, Florida Congressman Ric Keller was just Citizen Keller, running for Congress for the first time.
An October 2000 news story states, “Regardless of whether Democrat Linda Chapin or Republican Ric Keller wins Orange County’s congressional battle, neither one of them will be in the seat past 2008. Both Chapin and Keller have signed pledges limiting themselves to eight years in office.”
Now, that was optimistic. But hey: I was optimistic too.
After Keller won his first term, I saw him speak at a conference sponsored by U.S. Term Limits. He was persuasive about the virtue of serving a few years, then stepping down. No big deal for him to leave Washington and return to Florida to enjoy balmy lakeside life. Keller was very aw-shucks and folksy about it.
That was then. Now Keller has decided eight years in one political office is not enough, despite his pledge.
He’s telling reporters that as a “rookie candidate” he just didn’t understand the importance of seniority in Washington. Hmm. That’s funny. I thought one of the best reasons to support term limits was because we understand how seniority works in Washington!
There’s also the issue of integrity versus self-interest. Other leaders have kept term-limit pledges: Mark Sanford, now the governor of South Carolina; Tom Coburn, now a U.S. Senator; and Keller’s fellow Floridian, Charles Canady, who was just nominated to serve on the state supreme court. Unlike Keller they’ve succeeded and kept their integrity.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.