A moment of silence for the advancement hopes of Linda Myers, veteran Republican lawmaker now offered up as her caucus’ sacrificial lamb. House Minority Leader Don Turner promised a challenger to Speaker-in-Waiting Mitzi Johnson; it just isn’t possible that the 76-year-old Myers was the first name on his list.
Nothing against Ms. Myers, a pillar of her community and, by all accounts, a good person. But when I consulted The Google for traces of legislative accomplishment or leadership, I found astonishingly little.
As far as I can tell, she’s never held a position in the Republican caucus leadership, which tells you a lot about how she’s perceived by her colleagues. She’s been “parked for years” (in the words of one Statehouse observer) as vice chair of the House Committee on Corrections and Institutions, her service not terribly memorable but not malign enough to prompt her removal.
Well, I hope she enjoyed her vice chairship; after she loses the race for Speaker, she might very well lose the position. (A desirable post, since the committee oversees capital expenditures.) More often than not, there are consequences for such a challenge.
I doubt that Turner warned her about the potential fallout from her candidacy. And I don’t know that Johnson’s management style is retributive enough to lead to Myers’ demotion — but I don’t know that it isn’t, either.
Going into this year’s election, Turner’s caucus had hopes of adding several new members. They had solid financial backing from four wealthy Republicans, and they had the presumed coattails of Phil Scott at the top of the statewide ticket.
If they’d picked up five or more seats, they might have had a puncher’s chance of mounting a real challenge to the Democrats’ choice for Speaker. Take 60 or so Republicans, add some of the House’s seven independents, some moderate Dems, and a few Progressives willing to throw a wrench into the gears*, and you might pose a serious threat — especially if a relatively moderate candidate could plausibly claim to offer a working majority to cooperate with Phil Scott’s agenda.
*It’s happened more than once on Burlington City Council.
If that had happened, a credible moderate might have been enticed into the race. (Business-minded Independent Adam Greshin comes to mind.) But it didn’t, and I have to imagine that a few potential candidates turned down the chance to carry out a suicide mission against Johnson and the Democratic caucus.
Myers may be credulous enough to believe her candidacy is a harmless gesture,.She might be disappointed — not so much by her inevitable defeat, as by her exile to simple membership on one of the least of the House committees.
It may also backfire on Mr. Turner. If Myers fails to attract any non-Republicans — or if some Republicans abstain or even opt for Johnson — and she winds up with less than 50 votes, it’ll make Turner look weak. Republican members know that the best way for them to get a few crumbs off the table is to cooperate with the Democratic majority. Or, at least, not publicly cross the Dems.
In the words of Omar Little, “You come at the king, you best not miss.”