Home 2017 Races Goodlatte’s Stepping Down — Why Now?

Goodlatte’s Stepping Down — Why Now?

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WSVA in Harrisonburg just called me moments ago to ask for my reaction to the “surprising news” that Rep. Bob Goodlatte will not be running for re-election. It was indeed surprising to me.

I had thought that Goodlatte (age 65) would keep the seat until old age set in, as so many career politicians have.

All I can find on the web right now is a Tweet that says nothing [see Update, below], but that it has been an honor and a privilege etc.  So the question of why he’s stepping down remains to be answered.

One does note, of course, that this announcement comes just two days after the Virginia GOP suffered a stinging repudiation at the polls. So, was Goodlatte afraid of being defeated next November?

I am skeptical about that explanation. VA-06 is a 2:1 Republican district, and even this past Tuesday, this area pretty much continued to vote for the Republican candidates. The scenario in which those 67% or so of the voters of this District who reliably vote Republican would switch in large enough numbers, or stay home in large enough numbers, to hand the seat to a Democrat would require an even bigger wave (or tsunami) than the one we saw this week.

The radio interviewer wondered if maybe it is the burden of carrying water for this particular Republican President that finally was too much for Goodlatte.

About that, all I can say is that I never saw any sign that Goodlatte had any difficulty carrying a lot of other very dirty water for a Republican Party that has been increasingly morally corrupt over the quarter century that he’s served.

Most recently, in that vein, as Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Goodlatte has blocked what should be the nation’s most urgent business. The House Judiciary Committee is where issues of impeachment are supposed to begin to be examined. And never in American history, I would wager, has the evidence of likely (or maybe even certain) impeachable offenses by a president been so starkly visible.

But Goodlatte has stood in the way of any such investigation. Of the four congressional committees most relevant to looking into the Trump scandals — the House and Senate Judiciary Committees and Intelligence Committees — Goodlatte’s committee is the only one that has done absolutely nothing. (Unless you count diversionary “investigations” to distract attention from the real danger as “something.”)

So I am most curious to know just what has led Goodlatte to this decision.

(Update: I see that Lowell has posted Goodlatte’s “I’m stepping down” letter, for which I had googled in vain, and in it Goodlatte tells us this: “With my time as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee ending in December 2018, this is a natural stepping-off point and an opportunity to begin a new chapter of my career and spend more time with my family, particularly my granddaughters.”

(It could be that, of course. But as Goodlatte’s words have lacked candor –as it has seemed to me — on almost everything he has spoken over the six years I’ve paid attention to him, it does not seem that on a matter of this sort one should expect his stated reasons will tell us much about what his real reasons are.)

(On the question of what this may mean for the 2018 election for this seat, I’ll just say that there should be an interesting contest on the GOP side, and that there are already two announced candidates on the Democratic side. The tilt to the GOP should be diminished in the absence of an incumbent, but given the 2:1 Republican majority, and the rigidity that characterizes the political culture in this mostly rural District, it still seems like a pretty steeply uphill fight to me. And perhaps I should note in closing that I ran as the Democratic nominee in this District, against Goodlatte, in the 2012 election– which is part of why the radio station called me for my response.)

  • Christopher Nye

    Simple explanation is that he did not want to be in the minority party after the 2018 elections.