GOP Congressman Mark Walker—He Wants More “Wins” Besides Justice Gorsuch and Tax Cuts May 7, 2018
How do you spell “P A N I C?”—“G O P H O U S E M A J O R I T Y.” “P A N I C,” at least 39 GOP Congressmen are galloping for the Capitol Hill exits, the fastest exodus in modern history, leaving open seats where there is no incumbency advantage. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) leads this group of “Red” runners. “P A N I C,” the 4/30/2018 CNN House race analysis, updated from 4/11/2018, finds 180 seats in the “Solid Democratic” Column, a +1 increase from the previous 179 tally (CNN, Burlij, 4/30/18 & 4/11/18). More statistically significant, however, is that in the 4/30/2018 CNN update, CNN has moved one dozen (12) GOP House-held seats to a more competitive rating in the direction of “Team Blue.”
How has the panicked House GOP reacted to such disturbing news, including the fact that they eaked out an anemic 5% win in a 4/24/2018 special congressional election in the “Deep Red” AZ 8th CD (shareblue.com, Boehlert, 4/30/18)? This do-nothing lower chamber “suddenly” wants to get something, anything done to show voters why “Team Red’s” majority should remain in place after the 11/2018 midterms. In GOP Congressman Mark Walker’s words, “We need some more wins. We just can’t talk about Neil Gorsuch and tax cuts from here to November.” Wow! Mark Walker and his fellow GOPers are suddenly noticing that their FOX News/Capitol Hill bubble has holes in it. First of all, Gorsuch, as predicted, is nothing more than a Scalia plus clone on the High Court bench that progressives and moderates do not care for (See NY Times). Anyway, what type of legislative “achievement” is it to appoint Gorsuch and fellow lower federal court GOP ideologues? The White House and Senate are in “Team Red’s” hands and under Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “leadership,” all federal judiciary appointments, from the Supreme Court on down, need just a 51-vote margin, not a 60-filibuster proof one, the so-called “nuclear option.”
Even without the Gorsuch “win,” GOPers initially thought that their 1% tax cut scam for billionaires and corporations would ultimately save their House majority. GOP strategists hoped their key to re-election would be the middle class believing this tax cut was a “gift” to them. Well, despite all the FOX and right-wing talk radio propaganda, the public is not buying. Only 27% of Americans approve of this bill. GOPers lost races in VA, AL, and the special election in PA’s 18th CD when they ran on this tax cut agenda. In the PA race, GOP ads touting this tax cut had to be pulled. The public rightfully sees this tax scam bill as a boon to superrich individuals, corporations, and offshore foreign investors (shareblue.com, Martin, 4/17/18 & Boehlert, 4/18/18). There is little evidence that any significant legislation will be passed between now and 11/2018 because GOPers have no Democratic support for their extremist programs. Cong. Walker, however, cheaply prattles on about getting more “wins,” read, “reactionary” measures passed in the House. Meet Cong. Walker.
Second-term GOP Congressman Mark Walker (48) presently represents N. Carolina’s 6th Congressional District, CD. The current Tar Heel State 6th was recently reconfigured in 2016. This CD is located in the Piedmont Triad area in that state’s north-central area. It contains the cities and towns of Burlington, Pinehurst, and Southern Pines as well as the Uwharrie National Forest. Graham and Greensboro are in this CD. Raleigh is located outside of this district to the east, while Fayetteville is southeast of the 6th’s present boundaries (walkerhouse.gov/about/our-district, 115th Cong. At Your Fingertips). The 6th is comfortably GOP.
Dothan, AL native Walker’s father was a fundamentalist Independent Baptist minister who served as an AL prison chaplain (rollcall.com, dailysignal.com, 4/20/16). After living with his family in Houston, TX, Walker moved to the Piedmont, NC Triad, where he worked in business and finance for several years (votesmart.org). Walker graduated with a 1999 degree in Biblical Studies from Piedmont Baptist College, and was ordained in the Southern Baptist denomination. Before running for office, he was a pastor for 15 years. He decided to run while serving as pastor of music in Greensboro’s Lawndale Baptist Church, with a membership of several thousand (Cahn, rollcall.com, 7/20/14, Baptist Press, Strode, T. 8/01/14). Walker ran, “because our nation seems to have forgotten that our freedom isn’t a derivative of the federal government, but rather it comes from our Creator God Almighty.” He ran in 2014 “to help the republic to survive,” and compared his run to the actions taken by the Declaration of Independence signers (walker4nc.com, See votesmart.org).
Walker stood for a “radical change in our current tax code,” with a flat “fair” tax, a regressive proposal that would burden working families. He opposes the minimum wage, even questioning its justification. He supports increasing the Social Security retirement age to 70. He calls the justification behind climate change “contested.” He is 100% pro-life. He wants to defund Planned Parenthood and believes that women who are victims of rape and incest should be forced to give birth (walker4nc., Emily’s List). Walker is for fighting legislation LBJ signed over 50 years ago, including Medicare. He blames such programs for “replacing the role of the parent provider,” putting the family in “disarray (emilyslist.org).” Walker, who is white, gained national attention for a Facebook post, where he stated that these (African Americans) have no concept of the pride and joy when we, as parents, invest in our children.” African American legislators called Walker’s comments “insensitive and insulting (hpe.com, Johnson, P.B., 8/07/14).” Walker declared, “If I were given the chance to impeach Obama…yes, I would.” He also talked of “court-martialing him (See Kos, Nir, D., Elections , 8/13/14).” In 2014, Walker told a Tea Party group that the National Guard might be necessary to secure the U.S.-Mexico border. He added that he had “no qualms about starting a war with Mexico. We did it before, I don’t have a qualm about doing it again (newsrecord.com,9/19/14, wral.com, 9/19/14).” Despite all these views and comments, in 2014 Walker clobbered his Democratic opponent by a 17.4% margin and coasted to a second term with an 18.4% win (NC State Board of Elections, 2014 & 2016).
In 2016, Cong. Walker launched a campaign to become chair of the Republican Study Committee (RSC). The RSC is the most conservative bloc and dominant force within the House GOP caucus (CQ 14). In 11/2016, Walker won this intra-party race, becoming the RSC’s youngest chairman in history (Politico, Bade, 11/17/16). Walker is a zealous opponent of Obamacare and has led the RSC’s efforts to fully repeal this major social safety net legislation (CNN, Lee & Walsh, 1/04/17, “The Hill,” Bolton, 11/16/15). During the 2016 presidential election, Walker condemned Trump’s lewd remarks about women as “vile,” but still backed Donald over Hillary (Douglas, “News & Observer,” 6/09/16, Jarvis, “News & Observer,” 10/08/16).” In 2017, Walker himself publicly described female colleagues as “eye candy (cnn.com, Kenny, 9/26/17, heraldsun.com, 9/26/17, Murphy & Clark).” Deeply conservative Walker has voted with Demagogue Donald over 90.9% of the time (fivethirtyeight.com, Stolberg, nytimes.com,1/06/15).
One of the votes on which Walker “deviated” from Donald was when he opposed giving disaster relief to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria battered that island in 2017 (See fivethirtyeight.com). Why be surprised? In 12/2016, Cong. Walker was one of only 33 GOPers to vote “NAY” on a short-term stopgap funding measure that would appropriate millions of dollars in federal disaster relief for Hurricane Matthew victims. Hurricane Matthew, which struck in 2016, killed 26 people in Walker’s N. Carolina, left 680,000 Tar Heelers without power, and shut down Interstate 95 in that state. About 100,000 N. Carolina structures were flooded and damage to N. Carolina was estimated at more than $1 billion (Price, 2/24/17, WUNC, WNCN, 10/09/16, WUNC, deBruyn, WYFF, 10/16/16). Walker stated he opposed stopgap funding bills (Douglas, newsobserver.com, 12/09/16). IMHO, it’s ideology over compassion for the suffering people in Walker’s own district. Walker’s prayers are with his vulnerable constituents. In 2017, he was elected co-chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus. This group has more than 90 members drawn from the House and Senate. It was founded in 2005 to “guard the right of individuals to pray and practice their faith freely.” This group, which is lopsidedly GOP, has passed legislation reaffirming “In God We Trust” as our national motto. It has also defended the practice of legislative prayer and the rights of religious student groups to operate on secular campuses (cbn.com, 1/09/17, Rodda, huffingtonpost.com, 10/08/12).
Cong. Walker’s controversial comments have again made national headlines. On 4/26/2018, it was reported that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) had dismissed Rev. Patrick Conroy, the priest who had been serving as the House’s chaplain for the past seven years. During the debate on the 1% tax cut, Father Conroy had opened a House session with a prayer in which he urged that “there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans (CNN, Brownstein, 5/01/18, “The Hill,” Wong, 4/26/18).” According to Father Conroy, Ryan’s staff complained to him about this prayer. Ryan and his staff denied that any individual prayer contributed to Father Conroy’s dismissal, but many House members, especially Democrats, didn’t believe these “denials.” Both GOP and Democratic sources said that Ryan’s office told Conroy that he must retire or he would be fired (Wong, “The Hill,” 4/26/18).
Cong. Walker, one of the leaders of the committee searching for a replacement for Father Conroy made this statement, “I’m looking for somebody who has a little age, that has adult children, that kind of can connect with the bulk of the body here, Republicans and Democrats who are going through, back home the wife, the family…that has some counseling experience… because what’s needed in the body here is people who can sit down with different members, male, female, Democrat, Republican, and just talk about what is kind of to be up here (“The Hill,” Wong, 4/26/18).” Translation: Catholic clergymen, who must be celibate, “need not apply.” Many Catholics were furious and viewed Walker’s comments as plain old anti-Catholic prejudice. Catholic Cong. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) stated that Ryan’s ouster of Conroy was appeasing anti-Catholic sentiments in the GOP conference and Walker’s comments “now confirm our fears (“The Hill,”4/26/18).” Many Catholics believe conservatives were pushing to get urban Jesuit Father Conroy out of the House and replace him with someone more ideologically in tune with them (huffingtonpost.com, Bendery, 5/02/18). Popular Father Conroy is only the second Catholic chaplain the House has had. Catholics presently constitute the largest religious denomination in the U.S. and the largest one in the House and Senate (CQ 14, Wong, “The Hill”). In his 10 years in the House, Cong. Connolly had never seen members as angry as they were over Father Conroy’s ouster (huffingtonpost.com, 5/02/18).
After his insensitive remarks, Cong. Walker removed himself from the committee looking for a new House chaplain (Bendery, huffingtonpost.com, 5/02/18). On 5/03/2018, Speaker Ryan, finally understanding the outrage his ousting of Father Conroy had caused, reversed course. He agreed that Father Conroy should remain as House Chaplain (huffingtonpost.com, 5/03/18). Notwithstanding his awful remarks about Father Conroy, it will remain very hard to defeat Cong. Walker in his GOP-tilted NC 6th CD. However, if on 11/06/2018, Democrats and moderates come out in droves and take back the House, Cong. Walker’s provocative comments and votes will become irrelevant.