Campaign 2010

Oct 08, 2008

Orlando Sentinel - Feeney, Keller face expulsion from the nest

Could we really be saying goodbye to Tom Feeney and Ric Keller, two birds of a feather who may get booted out of Congress together?

The thought is stunning.

Only Fidel Castro has a more secure political gig than an incumbent Republican in Central Florida.

But both their races are tossups at best.

And lest you consider this a partisan analysis, I'm voting for Republican John Mica next month, just like I voted for him two years ago.

Mica is a geek with bad hair. He also is an expert on issues that are important here, such as mass transit and airline safety. What he can tell you about airport security will keep you awake the night before your flight.

When Jeb Bush, George W. Bush, Feeney and Keller all opposed offshore oil drilling, Mica supported it.

While other representatives go on junkets, he stays home and works.

He hasn't lost sight of his job description serving his constituents.

As for Feeney and Keller, they need the job more than we need them on the job.

Feeney's downfall has been particularly self-destructive.

This guy had so much potential. He was smart, engaging and passionate about all things conservative.

He arrived in Washington in 2002 at exactly the right time. And then he did exactly the wrong thing by latching on to Tom DeLay like a lamprey.

He became DeLay's protege, a star-in-waiting.

Feeney forgot us as he contemplated a bigger national stage. And then he packed his traveling bags for junkets to Paris, Germany, Antigua, Israel, London, South Korea, Scotland and China all paid for by mysterious groups and lobbyists.

I hope he at least passed out some Disney brochures for the home folks.

Feeney was so busy living the high life, he didn't notice disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff handing his credit card to the travel agent on the golf outing to Scotland.

Abramoff ingratiated himself to the lawmakers who were power brokers in Congress and those he thought would be powerful in the future.

Feeney, too eager to become a player, took the bait too easily. Now he is a regular on a "Most Corrupt Members of Congress" list put out by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

The Democrats have been pounding this in their TV ads. And all Feeney can do is look meekly into the camera and apologize. He calls it a "rookie mistake."

Feeney was a longtime veteran of the Florida House and served as speaker for two years. He ran as Jeb Bush's lieutenant governor in 1994.

Rookie? Please.

And now he has a legal defense fund because of an ongoing federal investigation into Abramoff's dealings?

Do you really want a congressman with a legal defense fund?

As for Keller, he is here only because state Sen. Dan Webster decided, for whatever reason, not to run against him in the Republican primary. So Keller survived a narrow victory over Todd Long, an unknown candidate best known for past drinking problems.

That bodes well for November.

Keller should have kept his term-limits pledge and quit this year. His excuse is he now understands the value of tenure. I would agree if we were seeing any benefit from his tenure.

But his claim to fame remains a bill that would exempt fast-food restaurants from lawsuits filed by obese customers. It goes nowhere, much like his congressional career.

Keller is a decent guy, just not a very effective lawmaker.

And that's because he was for George Bush before he was against George Bush.

And he was for the war in Iraq before he was against the surge.

And he was opposed to offshore drilling before he was for offshore drilling.

For once, Ric, tell me something that 51percent of the people don't want to hear.