More than any other member of Congress, Rep. Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., is the one that Democrats would like to see dispatched to an early retirement at the polls on Nov. 6. The only person who can do that is David Worley, the Democrat running against Gingrich.
So why hasn't the National Democratic Party given Worley a penny for his campaign? Why hasn't Worley gotten so much as a friendly phone call from the party? Because he has ignored the contemptible pact that both parties agreed to - that their candidates would not use the massive congressional pay raise against one another in this election.The agreement was struck last November in writing and signed by the national Democratic and Republican leadership. In it, both sides agree that the pay raise is not "an appropriate point of criticism in the coming campaigns."
House incumbents who voted themselves a $35,000 raise - more than most of their constituents make in a year - would prefer that the issue be forgotten.
Worley ignored the pact and, more than any other candidate in the country, has used the pay raise as the centerpiece of his campaign. He disbursed fake $35,000 bills around Georgia with the slogan "Boot Newt" beneath Gingrich's mug.
When Worley ran against Gingrich in 1988, the Democratic Party was behind him 100 percent. He received the maximum $50,000 contribution from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The committee told us that it is honoring the spirit of the agreement with the Republicans, but it is not withholding funds from candidates for that reason alone.
Then why is Worley suddenly a pariah? No comment. The Republicans do not appear to be as rabid about the pact. Republican National Campaign Committee Chairman Rep. Guy Vander Jagt, R-Mich., was one of the four party officials to sign the agreement. But he said he never expected to be able to force Republican challengers to abide by it.
The pact, which only the Democrats seem to be taking seriously, includes some language guaranteed to gag the voters:
"This agreement demonstrates our commitment in helping to provide a positive political and ethical environment in which qualified people can serve in government."
In other words, if it threatens the paycheck, it's dirty campaigning. Rep. Andrew Jacobs, D-Ind., accepts no money from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, so he can afford to ignore the rules.
Jacobs has proposed legislation to repeal the pay raise, but he told us the committee overseeing it will make sure the bill never gets to the floor for a vote.
Meanwhile, in Georgia, Gingrich is defending himself against Worley by saying that the pay raise will cost him money because Congress agreed to cut out honorariums at the same time.