Against Long Odds: Citizens Who Challenge Congressional Incumbents

By James L. Merriner; Thomas P. Senter | Go to book overview

2
NEW YORK
JOSEPH J. DIOGUARDI (R) v. REPRESENTATIVE SUE KELLY (R)

"Joe, don't do it." The words were those of House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, recognized as the father of the conservative Republican capture of Congress in 1994. "Joe" was Joseph J. DioGuardi, a longtime friend who had served with Gingrich in the House in the 1980s during their bomb-throwing days against the Democratic majority. DioGuardi had even been the national finance chairman of GOPAC, the political action committee headed by Gingrich to promote Republican candidates, in 1987-88. But now the two men confronted each other via opposing press conferences. The place was Westchester County, New York. The time was March 1996.

What was Gingrich warning DioGuardi not to do? Run for Congress against a liberal incumbent Republican.

DioGuardi replied, "Newt, you're a good friend, but you are not a voter in the Nineteenth Congressional District of New York."

After DioGuardi refused to drop out of the race, Gingrich turned nasty. On June 17, he sent DioGuardi a letter signed by himself and his four fellow members of the House GOP leadership, telling him to withdraw. Sternly, it was headed, "Mr. DioGuardi:" (no formal courtesy of "Dear" in the salutation) "Should it become necessary, the House Republican Leadership is prepared to commit time and extensive re

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