While a real tsunami is happening in Hawaii, John Linder gives lie to the claims of a Republican political tsunami in 2010. Linder becomes the 20th member of the House GOP to retire. He announced it today in a suprise move that seemed to catch Republican leaders off-guard while dedicating a new GOP Headquarters in his district's Gwinnett County.
John Linder came to prominence as Newt Gingrich's lieutenant in 1994's "Republican revolution" so it is telling that he chose now to retire when supposedly the winds are at their back once again. Despite being a vocal supporter of term limits, he retreated from that position to stay in his seat after the 12 year limit he himself proposed and voted for in 1995. Add to that a rocky stint as head of the NRCC in 1998 when his Party lost 5 seats after impeaching Bill Clinton.
Despite being a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee and in office 9 terms, Linder's only major policy effort was backing the FairTax proposal. Though Linder got no support for a National Sales Tax even from President Bush's own Advisory Panel on Tax Reform and never got a vote in any Subcommittee, Linder continued to make it his signature issue. And if you are wondering why anybody would continue to promote policy that has no chance whatsoever of becoming law... He co-wrote a book with radio-host Neal Boortz called The Fair Tax Book that has netted them millions despite the fact that neither of them have any economic credentials. They have profitted mightily from promoting an intense anti-Government campaign.
Linder was recently one of the Republicans applying for stimulus cash that he had railed against.
So where does that leave Georgia's 7th District? In 2008, Afghanistan and Iraq veteran Doug Heckman ran against Linder and got 38% of the vote. He just returned from another tour in Iraq this month and will be making the decision soon about running again and capitalizing on lessons learned. With an impressive resume and an ability to pull in independents and light Republicans, Heckman is the Democrats best shot in this district by far. It is a Democratic-trending District though Linder never had a serious problem. Without the incumbency advantage now, and with the name recognition gained by Heckman last cycle, there could be an excellent race in a year where Democrats have a decent shot at winning back the Governor's seat.
UPDATE: Hat tip to Mark Louis below: John Smoltz is considering a run? (Do they know he doesn't live in the 7th?)
UPDATE 2: D'oh! Residency in the district doesn't matter, it turns out. Did not know that.