The events of September 11 relegated less-important stories to the back pages of most newspapers, there to be forgotten. One such story is that of Rep. Gary Condit — the Democratic congressman from Modesto, Calif., whose sordid involvement with intern Chandra Levy and subsequent stonewalling about their "relationship" in the wake of her disappearance fell off the radar screens. But now, less than three months after September 11, Mr. Condit is back in the news and back in business. He's filed the necessary papers to seek re-election to Congress, notwithstanding the pre-September 11 consensus that his political career was over. "I'm running," said the California Democrat, in an almost Nixonian kind-of-way. "You guys will have to decide if you're going to be fair to me or not, and whether that's your main issue. I'm going to dwell on my record and what I've done . . . and what I'm going to do for the future."
Democratic leaders, including the governor of California himself, have indicated they will not campaign for Mr. Condit, and prior to September 11, it seemed most of his constituents were not especially enthusiastic about returning him to Washington. But Mr. Condit did manage to gin up more than the required 3,000 signatures from voters supporting his candidacy. So it looks like the game's afoot — even though Mr. Condit faces a tough primary challenge from a former aide, Dennis Cardoza, his onetime legislative chief of staff. Additionally, Mr. Condit's district was redrawn in the wake of the Levy affair in such a way that it now encompasses new voters, many of whom may lack any investment in the tainted California representative, whose well-deserved pariah status has surely affected his own ability to represent his constituents and the Democratic Party in general. The party does not need yet another low-rent Clinton and accounts of his dalliances splattered all over the pages of America's newspapers during an important congressional election.
Mr. Condit's Republican opponent will likely be State Sen. Dick Monteith, Modesto City Councilman Bill Conrad or former State Assemblyman George House — all of whom have officially entered the race, which will hopefully become an "anybody-but Condit" affair. What Mr. Condit has done is bad enough; what's worse, though, is that he doesn't seem to grasp that he has done anything wrong at all. Now that the hubbub has died down, he figures it's time to forgive and forget. There's work to be done in Washington; after all, there may even be new interns to "interview." It's a free country, and Mr. Condit has every right to behave distastefully. Here's hoping his constituents are more discerning.
Back To Politically Incorrect Menu