“I think good performace should be rewarded,” says Myron Ebell, director of Freedom Action, in endorsing Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, for Congress this year.
Those are extraordinary words coming from one of Upton’s most vocal conservative critics two years ago – and a hopeful sign in these cynical times that politicians really can learn from their mistakes.
Ebell, a smart, longtime Washington warrior against the Big Government Leviathan, has been outspoken in his support of Upton this year as the House Energy and Commerce Chairman seeks election to a 14th term. “As committee chairman, he has been a crucial point man against Obamacare and the EPA’s power grabs,” Ebell told me last week.
Fred Upton? Really? Really.
Upton was the bane of conservatives everywhere in 2010 when it came to light that he had co-sponsored during Nancy Pelosi’s 2007 Congress stealth legislation that would outlaw the common household light bulb on January 1, 2012. Lost in the wilderness and playing to the Beltway Media, President “We Are Addicted to Oil” Bush – and surrogates like Upton – were singing from the Green Church hymnal in decrying light bulbs for destroying the planet. The legislation earned Upton scorn as the prototypical, squishy Beltway GOPer.
Along with throwing Obamacare overboard, ditching the bulb ban became a battle cry of the grass roots Tea Party movement in 2010. Barack Obama had lived up to his “change” promise to re-colonize America as an over-regulated outpost of European Market Socialism. A mobilized electorate wanted America back.
Upton not only heard the battle cry, but repented for his past wrongs. To prove the point, he asked Republicans to make him general of the very division that would overturn Obamacare and his own bulb ban: The Energy and Commerce Committee. As general he has been a relentless voice against the Obama agenda. From Obamacare to the Keystone pipeline to Solyndra to, yes, the bulb ban.
Last December, Upton’s deft legislative maneuver short-circuited the EPA from turning the lights out on the incandescent bulb.
“It’s a milestone for personal freedom,” said Ebell at the time. “This is a significant reversal of Nanny State regulations. Maybe this is a turning of the tide.”
Upton hasn’t convinced everyone that he has changed his spots – conservative veteran Jack Hoogendyk has challenged him in the primary again this year. But polls on election eve show Hoogendyk losing by even greater margins than his 57-43 loss in 2010. Having Upton at the helm of the Energy Committee, says Ebell, is a crucial plus not just for Michigan – but for an incoming Romney administration which needs tested officers on the ground who can move quickly to roll back the Obama bureaucracy that is overrunning the country.