GOP battle plan: Embrace, don’t choke feds

Republican candidates running for Congress and incumbents who want to remain in the House of Representatives might want to take a page from the playbook of Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) who represents the city of Dayton.

Turner, or somebody on his staff, ran the numbers on various population groups in the Buckeye State. It showed that 49,450 people are active duty federal workers and an astounding 191,000 are retired U.S. government employees.

All of them are old enough to vote. Many have spouses, friends and family members who don’t like to see them kicked around. Or who don’t want them to go through another pay freeze, or have their take-home pay cut at the same time that their pension package is up for major surgery.

Dayton is definitely not part of the D.C. swamp. Neither is Huntsville, Alabama; nor Ogden, Utah; San Antonio, Texas; and scores of other towns and congressional districts where thanks to Veterans Affairs hospitals, IRS operations, military bases, and federal prisons Uncle Sam supplies the dominate payroll to keep them prosperous — and in business.

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Turner is one of a handful of Republicans outside of the metro Washington area who get it. His letter and statement opposing the White House plan to make feds pay more for, and get less in retirement benefits, was at the top of his home page last week. Instead of hiding from federal voters, like many politicians, he has embraced them. His letter said that in order to keep the best people, the government needs to raise pay, not freeze it.

Democrats outside the Washington, D.C. metro area seem to take feds for granted, and for good reason. They assume the civil servants are already won over or have nowhere to go.

Federal unions generally endorse Democratic candidates at the national and local level. But the majority of federal workers, outside of the U.S. Postal Service, do not belong to unions. During the Obama administration, despite promises to make being a federal employee “cool again” the White House created the sequestration monster. It led to furloughs and the administration backed a two-year pay freeze which Republicans extended to three years.

Politicians understand that federal workers are present in big states like California (152,466), Texas (132,952) or Florida (89,504), according to the Office of Personnel Management. They are even a bigger factor in smaller states like Virginia (144,245), Maryland (120,705) and Colorado (36,848). But what many of the head-counters forget is the large number of federal retirees from the sunbelt to the Canadian border. There are 4,845 feds in Vermont Who knew?

Last week we asked feds if they thought the majority of their colleagues were Democrats, Republicans or Independents. We received some very interesting comments which we will run by you later. In the meantime, Republicans who don’t want to be casualties in the traditional midterm majority-party defeat might want to run some numbers of their own, and help block proposed cuts in the federal retirement package.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

President Herbert Hoover’s youngest son, Allan, had an appreciation for animals as a child and raised two pet alligators from infancy, but they were never brought to the White House.

Source: National Archives