Stu Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report knocks Republican Martha McSally, who hopes to unseat Congressman Ron Barber next November, for refusing to say whether she would have voted in favor of the continuing resolution that ended the government shutdown last month:
Retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally is personable and engaging, and her 2,454-vote loss to Democratic Rep. Ron Barber in Arizona’s 2nd District in 2012 demonstrates that she has appeal as a congressional candidate.
But none of that exempts the 47-year-old Republican, who is running again this cycle and oozes confidence about her prospects, from answering an important question: How would she have voted on the compromise that ultimately ended the government shutdown in October?
And yet, though I asked that question repeatedly in an Oct. 29 interview, McSally did her best to bob and weave, clearly intent on not giving a “yes” or a “no.” Instead, I heard a lot of baloney about not wanting to look backward and only wanting to look ahead.
I understand the question is an awkward one for Republicans, since many in the party’s grass roots opposed the deal and many moderate and swing voters favored it. Supporting the deal could cause problems for a candidate in a Republican primary but be an asset in the general election. (Some 87 House Republicans voted for the compromise, while 144 opposed it.)
But this is one of those questions a candidate should not be allowed to duck, since the answer says something about the candidate’s views and approach to the legislative process.
Given my interview with McSally and my conversations with others about her, I’m guessing that the GOP hopeful would have supported the compromise. But I shouldn’t have to guess, and McSally’s refusal to give an answer raises some disquieting questions about her and her campaign.
McSally often refers to herself as outspoken, and she notes that her lawsuit against the Department of Defense’s requirement that U.S. servicewomen in Saudi Arabia wear a cloak that covers virtually the entire body proves that she isn’t a shrinking violet. Apparently, she doesn’t see the irony in her unwillingness to address the House vote that reopened the government.
If McSally is as much of a straight-shooter as she says she is, she ought to answer the question about how she would have voted, even if she needs to add an explanation about her answer.