According to The Hill, Arizona Congressman John Shadegg announced today that he will be retiring and will not seek re-election in November.
Shadegg, who was first elected to the House of Representatives to represent Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District and succeed current Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl in the 1994 Republican Revolution, is one of the good guys. He holds a lifetime 98 rating from the American Conservative Union–consider that Arizona Sen. John McCain’s has an 81–and has been an outspoken opponent of the Democratic Party’s efforts to advance cap-and-trade legislation, health care and immigration reform, and other forms of governmental excess.
The announcement was made this afternoon in a press release:
I am today announcing that, while I will serve out my current term in the U.S. House of Representatives, I will not be a candidate for re-election to Congress. Representing the people of Arizona in the House has been one of the greatest privileges of my life. And, while it would be difficult to leave this position at any time, it is particularly hard to do so now with the challenges we face as a nation, but it is necessary for me to do so.
While representing the people of Arizona in the House was one of my goals in life, it is not the only one. After 16 years it is time for me to take my life in a new direction and to pursue my commitment to fight for freedom in a different venue.
In doing so, I particularly want to thank the people who have supported and voted for me throughout the years. I couldn’t have won this seat or engaged in this fight without their steadfast friendship and support. I will remain forever in their debt. I also especially want to thank my wife, Shirley, and my children, Courtney and Stephen, for their sacrifice, patience, and encouragement. They have been there through the highs and lows, and I sincerely appreciate all they have done to make my career in Congress possible.
I also want to thank the men and women that I have been blessed to have on my staff, working alongside me as we fought the good fight. My staff is Shirley’s and my extended family, and their creativity, wit, and hard work stands unparalleled. Most importantly, together we share a passion for freedom.
Two years ago I considered retiring and briefly announced my intention to do so. I was talked out of that decision by my constituents and colleagues. For those who encouraged me to run then and particularly those who stepped up and helped financially in that race, I want to reiterate my sincere appreciation. 2008 was a disastrous year for Republicans. Yet, with their help we proved that this is a solidly Republican seat, defeating my Democrat challenger by double digits notwithstanding the millions of dollars poured into this race by National Democrats. This time, however, my decision is irreversible.
As the Obama Administration and Speaker Pelosi grow further and further out of touch with average Americans, evidence continues to build that 2010 will be a record year for Republicans running for Congress. And, I am extremely confident that the people of the Third District of Arizona will elect a solid conservative.
In the last year, I have been able to fight the massive government takeover of our nation’s health care system advanced by President Obama and Speaker Pelosi. I will continue to do so with every ounce of energy I can summon. This takeover is deeply flawed and overwhelmingly opposed by my constituents.
I have worked on health care reform my entire Congressional career. One of my proudest moments came when my legislation to encourage states to cover those with pre-existing conditions was passed by Congress and signed into law.
I have introduced legislation every year since 1996 to give Americans greater choice in selecting their health care and greater control over their health care decisions. Time and again, I have proposed innovative ideas. Early on, I introduced legislation giving individuals the ability to purchase coverage on the same tax-favored basis businesses now enjoy. I was the first to propose allowing individuals to purchase health insurance across state lines, an idea that continues to gain momentum. These are real reforms that would force America’s health insurance companies to compete with each other for our business, and drive costs down and quality up.
I have repeatedly introduced legislation that would give every American, rich and poor, health coverage and cover those with pre-existing conditions while preserving choice, creating real competition, and cost savings.
The biggest problems in health care in America today are the result of misguided government policies. It is the government that puts your employer and the health plan your employer selected between you and your doctors. It is the government that allows employers to buy health care coverage tax-free but makes individuals use after-tax dollars to buy coverage. And, it is the government, including a specific provision in the current House and Senate bills that gives health insurance companies immunity from damages if their decision injures or kills someone. Yet, National Democrats are about to bail out the health insurance industry, compel every American to buy their product whether we want to or not, dramatically expanding the roll of government in health care. This is a tragic mistake which we will come to regret.
To this day, I get goose bumps when I walk back to my office in the Cannon Building after a late night vote and look up at the Capitol Dome shining through the darkness. I will deeply miss doing so. Our Nation’s Capitol is the greatest symbol of freedom in the world. And, I will be forever indebted to the people of Arizona who bestowed on me the privilege of representing them in the fight for freedom.
While the rules of the House do not allow me to pursue future employment while I am still in office, rest assured, I will continue to remain in the fight for freedom and defend American exceptionalism.
Personally, I was hoping that Congressman Shadegg would leave his House seat only to challenge Arizona Sen. John McCain for his seat in the U.S. Senate. It was McCain, remember, who succeeded the indomitable Barry Goldwater in the Senate in 1987, and who has painstakingly carved himself a niche which has run afoul of the desires of many American conservatives.
McCain was always happy to reach across the aisle, joining forces in 2001 with Democrat Sen. Russ Feingold for the patently unconstitutional Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and in 2007 with “Liberal Lion” Teddy Kennedy for comprehensive immigration reform, a bill which but for intervention from the American people would have provided amnesty for anywhere between 12 and 20 million illegal immigrants currently living in the United States.
It was McCain’s tireless defiance, his consistent habit of jumping to the left when spooked, which combined with a George W. Bush-weary American public and allowed Barack Obama to skate into the White House in November 2008. Determined to avoid dropping the proverbial gloves and address Obama’s questionable voting record and beyond questionable harem of radicals in his past, McCain’s only boost in the polls came after he pulled former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin out of her sleepy Alaska town and thrust her and her eyeglasses into the spotlight.
Congressman Shadegg, however, has had a nearly spotless record of advocating fiscally and socially conservative policies. And this is a new America, folks — those of us who have, for the longest time, been concerned about our departure from the hopes and aspirations and values of our nation’s founders have finally awakened. We saw that sentiment manifested in the town hall meetings and the tea parties, and I think we’re going to see it in the polls 11 months from now, as the nation moves back toward the conservative values which allowed the United States to become the world’s sole superpower in such a relatively short period of time.
I have no doubt that, had he decided to run for McCain’s seat, Shadegg would have prevailed. So today’s news makes me unhappy beyond words. Barry Goldwater’s former seat in the United States Senate has, in my opinion, been crying out for someone to sit down and advance the ideas and ideals and tenets of conservatism that he so boldly championed. John Shadegg would have fit nicely as that man, and while John McCain’s concession speech–though not a surprise–was tough to swallow in November of 2008, a similar speech this spring after the Arizona primary would have been music to my ears.
Nevertheless, I’ve heard from a number of sources that his decision to run for reelection in 2008 was an agonizing one, so we here at America’s Right can only wish him the best in his future endeavors. And, considering that Shadegg’s district went for McCain by a 56-42 margin in the 2008 presidential election and that Shadegg succeeded Kyl in the first place, I have little doubt that his seat will remain in Republican hands.
Sad news today from Washington, D.C. Sad news, indeed.