LAWRENCE, Kan. — U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins said her mounting frustration with partisan gridlock in Washington is one of the reasons she decided not to seek a sixth term in Congress next year.
Jenkins, a Republican from Topeka, surprised many political observers when she announced in January that she wouldn’t seek any political office in 2018, although she had been mentioned as a possible candidate for governor.
She said she decided to return to the private sector because she didn’t see much chance that gridlock in Congress would end soon, The Lawrence Journal-World reported.
“Did I mention that this is my last term?” Jenkins said when asked whether Congress would stop its partisan wrangling. “I have never been so frustrated in my life.”
Jenkins said former Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas has told her of his days in Congress, when members of both parties would move their families to Washington and get to know each other outside of the halls of Congress.
“Their kids went to school together. They went to church together, they socialized together and they got to know each other as human beings, not as the majority or minority party. And you know what? It kind of worked. They could find some common ground,” she said. “Those days are gone. No one wants to move their family to Washington because the constituencies will think you’ve gone Washington. “
Because of that, she said Congressional members see each other only four days a week when they are extremely busy, so they don’t know each other well.
Jenkins noted that she was one of the founding members of a bipartisan group known as the “No Labels” conference to reduce “extremism” in both parties.
“But I will tell you, just recently, that has kind of disintegrated because, once again, the minority party — I have good friends in the minority party in the House — they’ve been instructed, under no circumstance will they help Republicans govern right now because they see an opportunity to get the gavels back after the next election cycle,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins didn’t mention Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s comment in 2010 that his party’s top political priority was to deny President Barack Obama a second term.
Jenkins also defended President Donald Trump, although acknowledging he “was not my pick of the litter.”
“But I trust the American people made their decision, and, by golly, he has the right to move forward with his agenda as promised to the American people. I think he’s capable of doing some really good things for this country,” she said.
Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com