Lesson for lawmakers in Landrieu, Roberts’ residency woes: Get back home early, often

Every election cycle, some candidate or elected official gets hammered for not really living in their district. The persons getting this treatment this time around are senior senators Mary Landrieu, who represents Louisiana, and Pat Roberts who represents Kansas.

Both lawmakers are being attacked by their opponents for really living in the Washington/Virginia area and having questionable residency back home.

There are serious issues and sometimes not so serious issues in every election cycle.

In a year in which voters hate Congress with a passion, the disapproval rating for members of the Senate and the House of Representatives is at a whopping 75 to 80%, anything can tip the balance in a close election. One of the most significant House members, former Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia lost his primary earlier this year in a safe Republican seat.


Cantor’s district is a mere 100 miles from Washington. Voters thought that, even though he was a House leader and potential future Speaker, he wasn’t spending enough time in his district.
Cantor disputes this but it doesn’t matter. He lost and now he’s about to start a new career on Wall Street.

This follows up on the primary defeat in the last cycle of well-respected Indiana Senator Richard Lugar, then the most senior Republican in the chamber, who represented the state for 32 years, longer than anyone in the state’s history. His opponent argued that he didn’t live in Indiana anymore and hadn’t even bothered to renew his driver’s license.

Most voters expect their representatives or senators to live in their district or certainly in the state they were elected to represent.

Members of Congress work very hard and spend a lot of taxpayer money on mailings and other material to convince you of this. Some even try to make you believe they live in your neighborhood and what is bothering you is bothering them.

The truth is most members live in or near Washington and their day jobs are hundreds or thousands of miles away from your neighborhood – they are not really living in your home state — they are at work on Capitol Hill.

You might be surprised to know that our elected members of Congress don’t even have to live in the district they represent or the state they hail from until they are elected. The only requirement is that they must be 25 years old to be a House member and 30 to be a Senator.

You do have to be a United States citizen by birth or by naturalization in order to run for congressional office. And, you must have lived somewhere in the United States for 7 years to run for the House and 9 years to run for the Senate.

In this year’s election cycle Landrieu has been accused of using her parent’s long time home as her place of residence. Roberts rented out a recliner at his doctor’s house so that he could use it as his voting residency.

Both senators have long records as office holders. They may win or lose this cycle but it shouldn’t be on phony charges that they don’t live in their home states anymore.

Yes, it’s expensive to have a home in two places. That’s why many lawmakers live in their offices and get home every weekend.

Still, the issue being raised, once again, should serve as a warning to all members of Congress, no matter what party they’re in.

Get back home as often as you can and when you’re there be visible! You may not need to be there full time but your constituents want you home and available to them.

Edward J. Rollins is a Fox News contributor. He is a former assistant to President Reagan and he managed his reelection campaign. He is a senior presidential fellow at Hofstra University and a member of the Political Consultants Hall of Fame.

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