While Democratic incumbents are running from constituents, holding secret meetings, and showing contempt for the people they represent, their challengers are stepping up:
Hoping to highlight the incumbents' decision not to hold similar meetings, New York Assemblyman Greg Ball, former Michigan Rep. Tim Walberg and Florida U.S. Army veteran Allen West announced this week that they are holding their own health care events.
Ball, who is challenging second-term Democrat John Hall, said in a statement that he "will be addressing the current Congressman's failure to engage the public in dialogue regarding H.R. 3200, derisively known as 'ObamaCare,' by hosting a series of town hall meetings next week throughout the 19th congressional district." The Hudson Valley's Times Herald-Record noted that Hall is "steering clear of town-hall-style meetings," though he has conducted a listening tour on health care throughout his district and is soliciting feedback from constituents via his congressional Web site.
Walberg, who is seeking a rematch with freshman Rep. Mark Schauer after Schauer unseated him in 2008, gave word Tuesday that he will hold four town halls in South Central Michigan in the coming weeks. "It is sad so many Members of Congress are unwilling to hold town hall meetings to listen to citizens' concerns and ideas about the health care reforms currently being formulated in Washington D.C.," he said in a release announcing the events...
West, meanwhile, said he had invited incumbent Ron Klein in Florida's 22nd District to join him at a public forum, which he is holding next week...
UPDATE: One of the GOP's top House challenger recruits, Colorado state Rep. Cory Gardner, is also holding health care town hall events, the Fort Collins Coloradoan reports. The Colorado political blog Face the State quotes Gardner's campaign spokesman Mike Ciletti as saying the forums are an means of "filling the leadership void created by Congresswoman Markey's avoidance of her constituents."
Democratic incumbents are acting as if townhalls are dangerous, and the attendees inherently impossible to deal with. In fact, they're encountering anger because they are ignoring constituents who want them to read legislation, to include themselves in any public plan they want to create for others, and to oppose any plan which pushes people into a government plan. Democrats who are able to address these concerns - Democrats like Heath Shuler - seem to be doing just fine in public meetings.
In any case, regardless of whether they expect to get a warm reception, Members of Congress ought to be brave enough to explain their views to their constituents. If they're unwilling to do so, they should step aside.
And if you happen to be live in one of the districts mentioned here, follow the link for details on how you can come to a meeting with the candidate who wants to represent you in the House.
Update: It's pointed out in the comments that Ohio's Jeanette Moll is holding town halls as well:
Jeannette Moll, who will be challenging Blue Dog Zack Space in Ohio’s 18th District, will also have a town hall, on August 28, 6:00 p.m., Tuscora Park, 16 1Tuscora Avenue, NW, New Philadelphia, Ohio. http://www.jeanettemoll.com/. Space, a nice and thoughtful guy, took this seat from scandal plagued Bob Ney in 2006. Moll is a former Guernsey County Magistrate Judge.