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May 14, 2006
Mark Kennedy: No Pay For Campaigning

With Mark Kennedy polling within the margin of error against Amy Klobuchar for Mark Dayton's open Senate seat, the Congressman wants to start differentiating himself from the Hennepin County District Attorney. He got his wish yesterday when he pledged to refuse his Congressional salary while campaigning, a promise that Klobuchar's campaign scornfully refused to match:

U.S. Rep. Mark Kennedy said Friday that he would not accept his congressional pay on days he misses votes in Washington because of his U.S. Senate campaign.

Kennedy, the Republican candidate for the seat being vacated by Democrat Mark Dayton, was one of only nine U.S. House members not to miss any congressional votes in 2005. But Kennedy said the demands of the Senate race could force a few missed votes this year. ...

Klobuchar's campaign manager, Ben Goldfarb, criticized Kennedy's move as a "phony gimmick" and said the campaign wouldn't respond further. He did say Klobuchar continues to draw her full salary.

One of the (many) causes for political cynicism is the endless electoral cycle, especially for Congress, in which it takes two years of fundraising and electoral activities to get re-elected. It promotes a culture of disregard for the job to some extent, as the representatives make politicking a higher priority in some cases than attending Congress and casting votes. Only nine House members made themselves present for every vote in 2005 -- out of four hundred and thirty-five representatives. That puts Kennedy in the top two percent of those who took their job most seriously.

Klobuchar, who has not yet sewed up the nomination but should have little trouble dispatching veterinarian Ford Bell, does not seem to take the issue as seriously. While most politicians do not follow Kennedy's pledge during their political campaigns, it seems a refreshing idea, and one has to wonder why Klobuchar's campaign feels so strongly against it. It will not save the federal deficit or lead to further economic prosperity if Kennedy has to zero out a few days on his timesheet, of course; in the grand scheme of the federal budget, it will make no more than a butterfly-wing impact. However, it does address an attitude of entitlement from our political class, an attitude that members of both parties demonstrate when it comes to pork projects and their reaction to citizen oversight on their spending.

Kennedy wants to show that he has a different attitude towards public service. Thus far, Klobuchar has shown the attitude of entitlement, that she should get paid for taking time off to pursue another job. It's not illegal nor (under present rules) unethical. Members of both parties do it all the time. Kennedy, however, will not, giving Minnesotans an interesting read on the character of both candidates.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 14, 2006 7:02 AM

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