You’ve got to love the way some political people are quick on the draw to figure out how one person’s tragedy of a lifetime can work to their benefit.
That seems to be the situation these days for Peter Roskam. He’s the one-time state legislator from Wheaton-turned-member of Congress who carries the title of “chief deputy whip” in the Republican congressional caucus.
THAT MAKES HIM a person of some note amongst the Republicans who run the House of Representatives, although not one that’s going to get a lot of national attention.
Yet his situation could change significantly in coming weeks.
For the great story of congressional politics these days is the fact that on Tuesday, Eric Cantor lost his bid for re-election.
Cantor is a member of Congress from Virginia who is majority leader. Which puts him just under House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in terms of Republican leadership.
YET THE FACT that Cantor is a veteran member of Congress made him suspicious to the ideologues who desire to turn all of government into a conservative ideological operation that does their bidding. Or, more specifically, that goes out of its way to stomp all over those people who disagree with them.
Cantor lost in the Republican primary to a candidate who has the Tea Party types all in support of him and their misguided rhetoric that they think constitutes some sort of revolution.
These things do happen from time to time. Even in Chicago.
I still recall when the all-powerful House Ways and Means chairman Dan Rostenkowski lost his re-election bid to a no-name Republican who wasn’t even thought much of in Republican circles.
LOCAL VOTERS DON’T always take into account, or really care, about the concept of keeping nationally-ranked officials in their positions of authority.
Anyway, Cantor is gone. He’ll finish up the year, then leave come January.
Although Cantor says he likely will give up his leadership post (thereby becoming just another rank-and-file legislator) sometime next month.
That means there’s going to be a leadership shakeup. And it seems that the “Gentleman from DuPage” wants to be sure his name is in line for a political promotion – although admittedly he’s not being so gauche as to openly campaign for the post.
BOTH THE CHICAGO Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune report that Roskam is refusing to say much of anything publicly about the move.
It would seem that Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is in line to move up to Cantor’s post, which would make him the second-ranking person to Boehner. With McCarthy currently holding the “whip” position, Roskam could then move up and into it.
It could wind up being in the hands of a former state legislator to be the official who keeps the members of the Republican caucus in line on issues of significance, and also is responsible for making sure GOP congress members are actually in attendance when votes are taken.
It’s a lot of procedural moves. But it is just the kind of post that can go to someone who is a party loyalist. Which could then be used by that official to gain more influence for the causes that they take interest in on behalf of their hometown constituents.
IT WILL BE intriguing to see just how this situation shakes out, and if Roskam is able to work his way up from the guy who only gets noticed in the western suburbs to someone of national repute.
Although the whole concept of local focus versus national when it comes to our members of Congress (whose purpose is to put a local spin on national issues) is a constant balancing act – one that legislators occasionally fail to meet.
Take Cantor, who may have developed a national reputation but I’m sure would gladly give it up Wednesday if it could mean he could keep his House seat!