Will Bridenstine’s successor be better or worse?
Even before the long-anticipated announcement that Oklahoma’s First District Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-Tulsa) would be leaving the House of Representatives to become the new administrator of NASA, political vultures from the congressman’s own party had already begun circling, eager for a chance to seize the post the ultra-conservative Republican had previously stated he would vacate at the conclusion of his term in 2018.
Bridenstine, during the nearly five years he has spent in office since defeating John Sullivan in a 2012 GOP primary and going on to win the seat in the general election that November, has been demonstrably hostile to comprehensive immigration reform and other issues of concern to his own Hispanic constituents, earning an ignominious “A+” rating from the staunchly anti-immigrant group NumbersUSA.
This raises an important question: will the person who replaces Bridenstine be better or worse for Tulsa area immigrants and their families, and for the local Hispanic community in particular? This question is especially significant given this week’s announcement of the end of the DACA program protecting DREAMers from the threat of deportation and the president’s throwing the ball into the hands of Congress.
So far five candidates have announced they are seeking Bridenstine’s seat next year, and with Donald Trump in the White House immigration is a hotter issue than perhaps ever before. It is also likely that some of the five or more Re- publicans hoping to go to Washington will follow Bridenstine’s example from 2012 by trying to prove they are even farther to the right than the incumbent, a trend in modern GOP politics.
Former Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris, considered to be an early front-runner, has already shown he is not a supporter of immigration reform, stating on his campaign website, “For too long, Americans have been put at risk because the federal government refused to enforce existing immigration laws.”
Christian missionary Andy Coleman, another candidate for Bridenstine’s job, has taken a similar position, as evinced by his immigration statement on Facebook: “Coherent immigration policy must be firmly rooted in the rule of law, not a spirit of lawlessness.”
The seat has been firmly in Republican hands for 30 years, and so far no Democrat has announced they will run, either in next year’s regular general election or in a special election that would be called should Bridenstine win confirmation to head up NASA before the end of this year.
One thing is clear: the person the voters select will join the legislative fray at a time when politics seem perhaps more divisive than ever before. (La Semana)