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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended June 18, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 19Jun00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

LDS Congressman Keeping His Word
Philadelphia PA Inquirer (AP) 17Jun00 N2
By Matt Kelley: Associated Press

WASHINGTON, DC -- LDS Church member Matt Salmon is keeping his word. Salmon, just 42, won re-election to the US House of Representatives two years ago in a landslide in the conservative Arizona 1st district. Given the rate at which incumbents get re-elected, Salmon could be looking at a decades-long congressional career. But Salmon isn't running again.

When he first ran for the US Congress, Salmon pledged to serve only six years in the House, so now, at the end of six years, he is stepping down. "It's important to do it because I said I'd do it," Salmon said. "I think people get really frustrated with politicians who say one thing and then do another. . . . It's a no-brainer for me."

Salmon is one of seven House members who made term-limits pledges and are stepping down. Threee have chosen instead to run for re-election. At the time Salmon ran for the House seat once held by current Arizona Senator John McCain in 1994, term limits were a hot issue. The Republican landslide that won control of the US House that year included term limits in its "Contract With America."

But the US Supreme Court struck down state laws limiting congressional terms in 1995, and Congress couldn't get enough votes to pass a constitutional amendment. Since then the issue has faded."It's as close to dead as you can get without a certificate," said Norm Ornstein, an analyst with the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington. "We're having good [economic] times, which have tended to bring a less-hostile view of politicians, politics and particularly Congress."

Salmon still supports term limits, saying that career politicians often become beholden to special interests. "I don't see a nickel's worth of difference, generally speaking, in a member of my party or a member of the other party when it comes to pork-barrel spending after they've been here 15 years," Salmon said. "They just seem to be part of the status quo."

Salmon's record shows support for children's issues, and he was involved in a successful effort to free Yongyi Song, a Pennsylvania college librarian, a Chinese native who had returned to China to do research. Salmon, who speaks Mandarin because of his LDS mission to Taiwan, met Chinese President Jiang Zemin to press for Song's release.

But Salmon's decision not to run again doesn't necessarily mean one less LDS congressman. Currently, LDS Church member Jeff Flake is a leading candidate among the five vying for the Republican nomination decided in Arizona's September 12th primary. Flake is facing stiff opposition from Tom Liddy, son of famous Watergate operative and conservative radio talk show host G. Gordon Liddy, and Susan Bitter Smith.


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