Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Liar, extremist, flip-flopper -- there's more than one way to skin a politician. But Hillary Clinton managed to come up with a new putdown when she derided Barack Obama as (gasp!) "a part-time state senator." Here's the quote from the Las Vegas Review-Journal :
"He was a part-time state senator for a few years, and then he came to the Senate and immediately started running for president," she said. "And that's his prerogative. That's his right. But I think it is important to compare and contrast our records."
At first, I thought Clinton had it all wrong. The Illinois General Assembly is typically considered a full-time legislature, as NCSL's helpful primer on the subject indicates.
However, in Obama's particular case, the accusation appears to be true. While serving in Springfield, he was also a lecturer at the University of Chicago School of Law and, at least nominally, held a position with a law firm.
It seems slightly surreal to me that part-time state legislatures are a presidential campaign issue, even a minor one. If Obama responds by praising the tradition of part-time citizen lawmakers and Clinton fires back that full-time professional legislatures are essential given the complexity of contemporary state policy and the need to check the power of other branches of government, I'll know I'm dreaming.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.