Wayne Allard Retiring, Seat Open in 2008
Colorado Senator Wayne Allard, a Republican, announced yesterday that he will not run for re-election in 2008, citing his pledge to serve no more than twelve years.
“I just didn’t think I could back away from the (term limits) commitment. It is a matter of integrity and keeping your commitments. I have never wavered on that,” Allard told the Rocky Mountain News.
Appearing with his wife, Joan, at a press conference at the state Capitol, Allard said, “The people of Colorado placed their trust in me based on a promise I made to them and I am honoring that promise. In an age when promises are cast away as quickly as yesterday’s newspaper, I believe a promise made should be a promise kept.”
Allard, 63, faced friendly pressure from fellow Republicans who wanted him to run again. That’s because open-seat contests can be vastly more difficult — and costly — for a party to defend. But he also was tugged by the promise he made in 1996 to serve no more than two U.S. Senate terms.
The term limits pledge was a relic of the so-called “Republican Revolution” of the 1994 election, when the GOP swept to power promising to change the ways of Washington. As time passed, some one-time leaders of the movement, including Rep. Tom Tancredo, and others who signed pledges, such as former Rep. Scott McInnis, abandoned their promises in the name of continuing public service. Others, such as former Rep. Bob Schaffer, lived up to their pledge and went home.
There’s a long list of potential candidates for Allard’s seat, including Rep. Mark Udall, D-Eldorado Springs, and various Republicans, such as outgoing Gov. Bill Owens, Tancredo, McInnis and Schaffer.
Even before Allard’s decision, the Cook Political Report and the Washington Post political blog had called Colorado’s 2008 Senate contest one of the top races to watch. An anticipated retirement by Allard was one reason, but analysts also point to Democratic gains in Colorado and other Western states.
The 2008 contest will happen in a presidential election year, and some Democrats are urging their party to pick a presidential nominee who reflects Western values. If so, that could give the party’s Senate candidate some coat-tails to ride.
Allard should be respected for honoring his pledge, even though doing so makes it even harder for his party to retake the Senate in the next election.
The pledge itself, though, was ill advised. Term limits may well be a sound idea but only if they are imposed across the board. Applying them unilaterally, whether by individual action or state-by-state legislation, simply increases the power of Members who are not bound by them. In turn, this gives citizens of states with very senior Members much more leverage in public policy and obtaining pork barrel projects.