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Jim GallowayJim Galloway

Your Philly Jolt: Newtown’s congresswoman explains her John Lewis connection

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This photo provided by U.S. Rep. Chillie Pingree, D-Maine, shows Democrat members of Congress, including Reps. John Lewis, D-Ga., center, and Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn. as they participate in a June sit-down protest seeking a a vote on gun control measures on the floor of the House on Capitol Hill in Washington. Via AP

This photo provided by U.S. Rep. Chillie Pingree, D-Maine, shows Democrat members of Congress, including Reps. John Lewis, D-Ga., center, and Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn. as they participate in a June sit-down protest seeking a a vote on gun control measures on the floor of the House on Capitol Hill in Washington. Via AP

PHILADELPHIA – The Georgia delegation is housed a short bus ride away from the arena where the Democratic National Convention is playing out.

It shares a hotel with representatives of Connecticut. Much cross-pollination is happening. On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. John Lewis addressed the New Englanders.

This morning, U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty came to the Georgia side to explain why, last month, she sat next to Lewis on the floor of the U.S. House – a sit-in that protested the lack of action by Congress on gun violence.

The short answer is easy. Esty represents Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six adults were gunned down in Sandy Hooks Elementary School.

Esty was introduced by David Worley, who is a former Georgia party chairman but was also an undergrad classmate with Esty at Harvard. Esty was elected to Congress, but hadn’t yet been sworn in on Dec. 14, 2012. She was in Boston, in a class for new members for Congress, when her phone started going off. Said Esty:

“By noon, I’d thrown my clothes in the car and drove straight to the firehouse in Newtown, crying the whole way. I sat there while families were notified.

“I remember hearing one woman screaming and crying and saying, ‘She was sick, she didn’t want to go to school. I wanted to go Christmas shopping. I made her go. And if I hadn’t done that, she’d be alive today.’ No parent in America should have to live with that guilt….

“It is not anybody’s fault other than the U.S. Congress for not taking action, because we are a better country than that.”

Added Esty:

“It’s become a killing field. It’s become a war. One hundred thousand Americans have died since Newtown. That’s almost two Vietnams.”

***

A pair of Wednesday night Tweets from WSB Radio’s Erick Erickson, who is definitely not a Donald Trump fan, are being passed around Philly:

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On that same note: The Thursday morning meeting of the Georgia delegation was sparsely attended. The Wednesday night session that ended with President Barack Obama’s extended endorsement of Hillary Clinton ran long.

Nonetheless, state Rep. Calvin Smyre of Columbus, a former party chair with very good Clinton connections, joined those pointing to the optimistic notes that Democrats are sound here, compared to the harsher portrait painted by Republicans in Cleveland. Said Smyre:

“It was clear to me last night that the message ought not to be anti-Trump, but it ought to be pro-America, and pro-growth and pro-economic development. Instead of trying to tear down America, build up America.”

***

On Wednesday, attendees at a luncheon sponsored by the Georgia Democratic party honoring women included Jim Barksdale, who is challenging Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson in Georgia’s race for U.S. Senate.

News was just breaking about the invitation Donald Trump issued to Russian hackers, asking them to search for Hillary Clinton’s missing emails. In other words, the GOP nominee for president has asked a foreign country to insert itself into an American political contest.

So I tossed a softball at Barksdale. What’d you think of Trump’s invitation? Said the political novice:

“Partisanship used to stop at our shores, right? That’s part of our own devotion and patriotism to our country. I think it’s completely inappropriate.”

Not the strongest words that Barksdale might have used. So we gave him a second shot: And if you were in the U.S. Senate now? His answer:

“I think the most important thing is that we stand together and bring Americans together in terms of a foreign policy that makes us more safe. I’m not comfortable that the policies we’ve been following have made us more safe. Johnny Isakson favored the invasion of Iraq. I opposed it.”

Note to the new candidate: Next time, think about using the opportunity to pose an uncomfortable question to your opponent. for instance: What does Isakson, who has endorsed Trump, think of the GOP presidential candidate’s invitation? Or for that matter, U.S. Sen. David Perdue?