Crockett looks out over a changed political landscape
“Can you believe this?” Jarrod Crockett asked.
“This is something else. It's the first time in my life the Republicans held a majority in the House of Representatives in Maine.”
“But I knew it was going to happen in my lifetime,” Crockett said. “When I was a kid, Louise Lincoln (sidebar) told me it would.”
He promised her then that he would one day run for the District 91 seat she held from 1961 to 1975 – the year before Crockett, now 32, was born.
He did, in 2008, and was elected to his first term in the House. Last week he was reelected handily.
But he was not expecting, at least not this year, that he, too, would be a member of the party in power.
“I wasn't expecting the Republicans to take the majority in the house,” he said Monday.
And that surprising victory will require a little attitude adjustment on the part of his party colleagues, he said.
“People have got to realize that there is a big difference between sitting on the porch and sniping, and actually running a state. It's going to be a big mentality adjustment for a minority party when it takes power – we've got to actually do something.”
“Some of my colleagues? I hope they grasp that.”
“If people aren't committed to the overall idea of governing, and we don't stay united, and aren't willing to compromise to a certain extent, we could go in the wrong direction.”
But he was confident that will not happen.
Instead, he predicts the new majority will stay focused on the key objectives of cutting the state's budget, improving the business climate, making health care more affordable, and strengthening education.
“You have no choice, you have to deal with those core things,” he said.
Taking health care as an example: “I really think that during this session, you're going to see some meaningful health-insurance changes.
“The market will become a little more open, and the nature of insurance in the state of Maine will become more affordable. … It won't be Cadillac programs, but there's going to be decent insurance, without high deductibles, that the average family can afford.”
In regard to education, a plank in the platform ultimately adopted at the Republican convention calls for eliminating the state Department of Education.
But that's not a plank Crockett is willing to walk.
In fact, he said, he never even read the final GOP platform, which was adopted only after a more consensus platform, which he supported, had been rejected.
And he is definitely not in favor of eliminating the Department of Education.
“I don't think you can eliminate the Department of Education. I don't think you should eliminate the Department of Education. There has to be some standardization across the board.”
“The real question,” he said, is: “How do we get to 55 percent funding – it's a mandate, not really an option for us.”
“Education should get bigger. It's our long-term answer.”
On Friday House Republicans are set to elect the leadership for their first session in 35 years as majority party.
Asked if he had any aspirations in that direction, Crockett said he had put in, but then withdrawn, his name for the position of assistant majority leader (or “Whip”).
“I had considered it, and I had been asked to do it,” he said, “And I would have been the youngest person in the leadership on the Republican side by about 30 years.
“But a guy's got to have priorities in life, and I want to be able to vote the will of this district, and not be beholden to a set agenda.”
Committee chairman will also be elected Friday.