Wouldn’t it be hilarious if a governor suggested postponing congressional elections for a couple years? Recently, Democratic North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue did just that in a speech before a local Rotary Club. Her reasoning was that if elections were postponed then politicians who don’t have to worry about re-election will be better able to handle the current economic crisis in our country. When I first saw the headline on this suggestion I missed the name of the person suggesting it and I assumed it was some kind of Obama straw-man argument. They usually go like this: “some say [insert awful idea here], but I say [insert reasonable idea here].”
But no, it was the North Carolina governor making the suggestion, and she appeared to be totally serious! She really developed the idea. Among the explanations given by her spokesman was that Gov. Perdue was just joking – you do have a sense of humor don’t you? — but that didn’t sound like a real knee-slapper of a joke to me. Maybe I just didn’t get her schtick.
In fact, I listened to the audio on this speech, and either the governor was totally serious or she has the driest sense of humor of any politician I have ever heard. Reportedly she didn’t even make this proposal and do anything silly like roll her eyes or pause for a punch-line. Nothing! Not even a rimshot by a drummer nearby or a comment like “thank you – you’ve been a great audience,” followed by a reminder to tip your waitress. If she had said something like that while making this proposal, the Rotarian audience would have at least given her a sympathy chuckle and the press secretary would have had something to point to in arguing that it was just a joke.
No, while it may not have been a serious proposal, it definitely was not a joke. It was probably a stream of consciousness idea based upon the lousy chances the North Carolina Democratic House delegation has going into the 2012 elections.
See, as it stands now North Carolina will not have a senatorial election in 2012, but all 13 House Representatives will be up for re-election, and currently 6 of 13 of North Carolina’s representatives are Democrats. Of those 6 Democratic congressmen, 4 are having their districts brutally re-drawn by a Republican state house, and those 4 are going to have a very tough re-election. After the 2012 elections, North Carolina’s House delegation could very well go from 6 Democrats and 7 Republicans to 2 Democrats and 11 Republicans, a net loss of 4 Democratic congressmen. Between now and 2012 I would not be surprised to hear of at least one retirement (David Price from moderate the 4th congressional district is 71 years old) and maybe even a party-change (Heath Shuler, from conservative district 11, who challenged Nancy Pelosi for the Democratic leadership post after the 2010 elections).
Also, let’s not forget the punishment voters in special elections have been giving Democrats even after the 2010 mid-term elections. Just a couple weeks ago voters in Nevada elected a Republican in Nevada’s 2nd congressional district, and voters in New York’s 9th congressional district actually elected a Republican to replace the disgraced but well-endowed former congressman Anthony Weiner. With all this doom heading towards Democrat Congressmen, not only nationally but in North Carolina, can you blame Gov. Perdue for thinking aloud about putting off those pesky elections for a couple years? It would have been difficult to joke about that, but every once in a while “gallows humor” can get a laugh.
Reportedly, on his deathbed, the actor Edmund Gwinn said, “dying is easy. Comedy is hard.” He sure had that right! Before dying he should have talked with North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue.