Congressman Says He Doesn't Have to Abide by Norquist Pledge Because He Has a New District Now

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 29 2012 4:22 PM

Congressman Says He Doesn't Have to Abide by Norquist Pledge Because He Has a New District Now

This move by New York Rep. Chris Gibson is so slippery and befuddling that I may have to rethink my sureness that the Norquist pledge is safe. It's so unpopular, apparently, that a congressman can argue that he doesn't have to abide by it anymore, because thanks to redistricting he has new constituents. This really is what his office said.

The Congressman signed the pledge as a candidate in 2010 for the 20th Congressional District. As a 24-year veteran of the United States Army, without a legislative record, the pledge was his commitment to the district he was running to represent... Regarding the pledge moving forward, Congressman Gibson doesn’t plan to resign it for the 19th Congressional District, which he now represents (the pledge is to your constituents of a numbered district).

It's not even a good dodge! The pledge is readable by anyone who has a web browser. Here's how it begins:

I, _______________, pledge to the taxpayers of the _____ district of the state of__________, and to the American people that I will...
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Unless you have an incredibly daring interpretation of the Oxford comma, that whole part about the "American people" implies that the signatory is pledging this to humans who live outside his current district lines.

Like I said, this suggests that the pledge is a problem for wobbly Republicans, politically. Does it suggest that Gibson will vote to increase taxes without big Democratic concessions? No. But Democrats are having some fun with this offensive.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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